Caroline Wenzke and Dan Lindley
Dismantling the Cyprus Conspiracy: The US
role in the Cypriot Crises of 1963, 1967, and
Caroline Wenzke is a student in History and Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame
and can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org . Dan Lindley is an associate professor in the
Department of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame and can be contacted at 448
Decio Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556 USA, or email@example.com, or 574-631-3226.
Draft. May 16, 2008. Comments Welcome.
PART I. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND TO 1963 4
PART II. INTRODUCING THE CONSPIRACY THEORIES 8
PART III. 1963-4: THE CRISES BEGIN 12
Chapter 1. The Collapse of the Constitution and the Conspiracy 12
Chapter 2. The Realities of U.S. Policy 17
PART IV. 1967: ANOTHER CRISIS AVERTED 30
Chapter 3. The Reemergence of Hostilities and the Conspiracy 30
Chapter 4. The Realities of U.S. Policy 33
PART V. 1968-1973: THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM 40
PART VI. 1974: THE FINAL SHOWDOWN 43
Chapter 5. January to July 15, 1974: The Greek Coup and its 43
Chapter 6. Who is to Blame for the Coup? 45
Chapter 7. Who is to Blame for the First Turkish Invasion? 59
Chapter 8. July-August 1974: The Aftermath and Second Invasion 69
Chapter 9. The Realities of U.S. Policy Post-Invasion 72
Brendan O’Malley and Ian Craig, The Cyprus Conspiracy: 1 America, Espionage and the Turkish Invasion
(New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd, 1999), VII.
What was the extent of United States involvement during the three crises on the
Mediterranean island of Cyprus in 1963, 1967, and 1974? After two Turkish threats to
invade in 1963 and 1967, a Greek-sponsored overthrow of the Cyprus government led to
Turkish military intervention in 1974. The ethnically Greek Cypriot population was left with
less than 63% of the island they had once controlled in its entirety. Was the U.S. to blame
for these events?
A number of authors say yes, the U.S. is culpable, and accuse the government of
explicitly encouraging the Greek coup and Turkish invasion in order to preserve three U.S.
communications facilities and two British Sovereign Base Areas (SBA’s) established by
treaty on the island. Their argument is best described as a “conspiracy theory,” because it
attributes the chain of events on Cyprus to secret decision-making by American
policymakers in order to achieve strategic U.S. goals. Indeed, journalists Brendan O’Malley
and Ian Craig explicitly refer to their argument as a “conspiracy by America.”1 Other major
proponents of this theory include Christopher Hitchens, Lawrence Stern, and William
This thesis analyzes the intentions and motivations of the U.S. government during the
Cyprus crises of 1963-4, 1967, and 1974 with two goals: to assess the validity of this
particular conspiracy theory and then present the policy implications of these findings.
Specifically, this thesis sheds light on the danger of assuming that U.S. covert Cold War
operations occurred without thorough research. It also illustrates the negative implications of
conspiracy theories on the negotiation processes, both in Cyprus and more generally. As
O’Malley and Craig aptly note in their introduction, “Greek Cypriots have long believed the
Monteagle Stearns, Entangled Allies: U.S. Policy toward Greece, 2 Turkey, and Cyprus (New York: Council
on Foreign Relations Press, 1992), 11.
Americans were to blame for failing to prevent the bloody events of 1974, which left the
island ‘ethnically cleansed’ long before the phrase was ever conjured up.” Exclusively
blaming the U.S. government has consistently misconstrued the events of that summer
through ultra-nationalist propaganda. These tactics have diverted the focus away from a
constructive solution to the problem by encouraging hard line positions and a rejection of
compromise. The subsequent negotiations have also been tainted with an air of suspicion
and mistrust. A clarification of U.S. foreign policy can only benefit both sides by
discrediting a misinterpretation of facts and encouraging leaders to instead work on the core
issues of the conflict.
Based on primary document research and analysis of the secondary source material
on the subject, it is clear that the conspiracy theories are unsatisfactory explanations of the
events leading up to the crisis in 1974. While it is certainly the case that the U.S.
government merits criticism for its inactivity and focus on its own reputation and interests,
no grand scheme existed to encourage a Greek coup or Turkish intervention in order to
institute partition on Cyprus. Rather, the development of U.S. policies from the 1960s up to
1974 can be best described as, in the words of Monteagle Stearns, “firefighting operations
designed primarily to prevent general hostilities between Greece and Turkey or secure other
short-term objectives.”2 Thus the U.S.’s role in Cyprus during the 1974 crisis can be best
described as a sin of omission, rather than a sin of commission.
I develop this argument in four parts. First, I provide a brief historical background of
the events leading up to the initial crisis in 1963. Second, I introduce the conspiracy theories
and describe my two major criticisms of their argument: primarily that the U.S. did not have
a consistent policy over this ten-year period and second that the communications facilities
and SBA’s were helpful, but not vital to the government’s covert monitoring of Soviet
The third portion will be divided into three sections: the crisis from 1963 to 1964, the
turmoil of 1967, and the final explosion in 1974. Each section will begin with a more
specific outline of the conspiracy theories’ arguments regarding U.S. involvement in each
crisis. I will then describe what I argue was the true evolution of U.S. foreign policy toward
Cyprus in a chronological, narrative format through primary documents. This section will
emphasize that, rather than driving the events on the island, the U.S. was in a reactive
position where the only consistent goals were to prevent a war between NATO allies and use
negotiations rather than weapons to resolve the issues and create stability.
Fourth, in the conclusion, I summarize my argument against the conspiracy theories
and describe its historical and political implications. I will elaborate on the way this thesis
argues that conspiracies theories must be carefully questioned and analyzed, especially in
regards to the U.S. and the Cold War. In addition, it expands on the negative impact that
conspiracy theories may have on the negotiating process for those involved.
Barbara Koremenos, “Sustainable Peace Agreements in the Age of International 3 Institutions: The Case of
Cyprus.” In No More States? Globalization, National Self-Determination, and Terrorism, ed. Richard N.
Rosecrance and Arthur A. Stein, (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2006), 208.
4Nathalie Tocci and Tamara Kovziridze, “Cyprus.” Europeanization and Conflict Resolution: Case Studies
from the European Periphery, ed. Bruno Coppieters, et al., (Gent: Academia Press, 2004), 65.
5 Lindley, Daniel, “Historical, Tactical, and Strategic Lessons from Partition in Cyprus, International Studies
Perspectives, 2007, 229.
6 Coufoudakis, Van, Cyprus: A Contemporary Problem in Historical Perspective, Minnesota Mediterranean
and East European Monographs, Minneapolis, MN, 4.
PART I. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND TO 1963
Cyprus spent much of its historical existence under the rule of imperial powers. The
Ottomans, who had control for three centuries beginning in 1571, laid the basis for the
island’s future problems by introducing a Turkish Cypriot minority.3 Groups on both sides
of the conflict argue that strife between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities
dates back to the period of Ottoman rule. The formative years of the island’s troubles,
however, were during the colonial period in the 19th and 20th centuries.4
In 1878, the British Empire took control of the island and instituted a policy of
support for the Turkish Cypriot minority population in an alliance against the Greek Cypriot
struggle for enosis, or union with Greece.5 The Greek Cypriots spearheaded this movement
because of their dissatisfaction with British rule. This led to heightened tensions between the
Greek Cypriot majority and both the Turkish Cypriots and the British. It was at this point,
then, that Greece and Turkey became involved in support of their respective communities on
the island: Greece and Greek Cypriots desired unification, while Turkey and Turkish
Cypriots began to support taksim, or partition, after 1957 with the continuation of British rule
as a possible second option.6 The involvement of these two “outside” nations was further
complicated by the history of animosity between Greece and Turkey themselves, which has
played a role in this conflict since its inception. Thus even the early stages of the struggle
were characterized by deeply polarized positions that appeared irreconcilable.
7 Tocci, 66-67.
8 Coufoudakis, xii.
Confrontation over colonial rule was initiated by the EOKA (Ethniki Oranosis
Kyprion Agoniston), a Greek Cypriot guerrilla organization. During the mid-1950s, the
British responded in part by recruiting Turkish Cypriots for an Auxiliary Police Force to help
manage the enosis riots and militant violence. This policy of “divide and rule” further
polarized the communities. The immediate struggle over control of Cyprus ended with
neither community achieving their goals; Britain adjusted their imperialist policy on the
island and agreed to a republic in the late 1950s. The Greek Cypriot leader, Archbishop
Makarios III, also agreed to accept independence, rather than enosis. The “homeland”
countries of Greece and Turkey became diplomatically involved once more in the creation of
a Constitution for the independent Republic of Cyprus in 1960.7
The Constitution of 1960 was an extremely complicated agreement that failed to
unite either the government or its people under a united Cypriot nationality. Rather its
consociational elements reinforced the separation of the two communities. The structure of
the presidency and legislature helped create these sharp divisions along cultural lines by
defining politicians, positions, and representation as either strictly “Turkish Cypriot” or
“Greek Cypriot.”8 Part of this separation developed in negotiations, when Turkish Cypriots
demanded recognition as an equal entity alongside the Greek Cypriot majority with a
corresponding division of power in order to protect their political rights and interests. In
order to satisfy these demands the Constitution created a Greek Cypriot Presidency and a
Turkish Cypriot Vice-Presidency with veto rights. In addition, the agreement required that
Turkish Cypriots comprise 30 percent of all civil service positions and 40 percent of the
army. These ratios contrasted sharply with their percentage of the island’s demographics of
9 Lindley, 229.
10 Lindley, 224; Coufoudakis, 76.
11 Ibid., 67.
12 Carment, 183.
13 Tocci, 67.
about 18%.9 The Constitution was therefore designed for the security of group rights rather
than individual Cypriot rights and established a constitution prone to gridlock.10
An additional important point about the Constitution of 1960 involves the three major
treaties attached to the agreement: The Treaties of Establishment, Alliance, and Guarantee.
The Treaty of Establishment is most significant for the conspiracy theories because it created
the 99 square mile Sovereign Base Areas (SBA’s) that would maintain the military bases at
Episkopi and Dhekelia under British sovereignty. The conspiracy theories argue that these
bases, along with the U.S.’s communications facilities on the island, were valuable enough to
the American intelligence during the Cold War to encourage a Turkish invasion.
The Treaty of Guarantee was intended to “ensure the independence, territorial
integrity, and security” of the Republic and prevent the two communities from achieving
enosis or taksim.11 The key portion of this Treaty is Article 4, which states that: “Each of
the three guaranteeing powers reserves the right to take action with the sole aim of reestablishing
the state of affairs created by the present treaty.”12 This became crucial in 1974
when Turkey utilized this article to legitimize its military intervention and claimed force was
used in order to re-establish the security of Cyprus. The Treaty of Alliance was designed as
a defensive pact to maintain peace and security on the island that allowed for the presence of
Greek, Turkish, and British troops.13
The Constitution of 1960 brought an end to the bitter anti-colonial struggle, but did
not bring a lasting peace to the island. Greek Cypriots, under the leadership of President
Makarios, were unhappy with the agreement because it was externally imposed, “a betrayal
of the enosis cause,” and made “overgenerous” concessions to the Turkish Cypriot
14 Tocci, 68.
community.14 The Turkish Cypriots, led by Vice-President Fazil Kutchuk, were also
unhappy with the final agreement and remained concerned about the security of their
community’s existence and political rights. This dissatisfaction and the structure of the
Constitution reinforced the division between the two groups. As a result, a conflict between
Greek and Turkish Cypriots continued at the political level as the two communities struggled
to create a police force, army, and civil service that conformed to the required ratios and
satisfied the interests of both sides. In addition, Greek and Turkish Cypriots could not agree
on taxes, the boundaries of the Turkish-speaking municipalities, or the lawmaking process
within the legislature.
In the meantime, Makarios began a campaign to build international support for
changes to the Cypriot Constitution through visits to non-aligned and Soviet countries. He
also developed internal support from the Cypriot Communist party, AKEL, which had gained
strength in the rural areas of the country since independence. Both moves increased U.S.
concerns about Soviet influence in the Eastern Mediterranean, which impacted later events
during the crises when the U.S. made decisions based on maintaining the strength of NATO
and countering Soviet influence. In November of 1963, Makarios publicly proposed thirteen
changes to the Constitution and the stage was set for the first Cypriot crisis.
Christopher Hitchens, The Trial of Henry Kissinger (New York: Verso, 2 15 001), 84; Laurence Stern, The
Wrong Horse: The Politics of Intervention and the Failure of American Diplomacy (New York: Times Books,
16 John L. Scherer, Blocking the Sun: The Cyprus Conflict (Minneapolis: Minnesota Mediterranean and East
European Monographs, 1997), 39.
PART II. INTRODUCING THE CONSPIRACY THEORIES
In this section, I lay out the conspiracy theories before I assess their validity in light
of available documentary evidence. The theories themselves range from a suspicion of
ulterior motives to a clearly outlined thesis that directly accuses the U.S. of explicit support
of Greek and Turkish intervention, and thus complete responsibility for the events in 1974.
Several authors, such as Christopher Hitchens, John L. Scherer, and Laurence Stern, have
raised the question of U.S. complicity in their respective books. They suggest that if the U.S.
had the capability to call off a coup or deter invasion in 1963-4 and 1967, the government
could have authorized either action in 1974.15 Scherer also claims that, since Henry
Kissinger was able to engineer a ceasefire after Turkey’s first invasion on July 20, 1974, he
should also have been able to do so after the second phase of the invasion on August 14.16
Thus the authors claim the U.S. at the least failed to act effectively against the Greeks and
Turks and at worst explicitly supported their actions.17 These arguments rely primarily on
testimony from those involved in the State Department at the time and the author’s own
personal experiences, as many of the now available primary documents had not yet been
The most recent addition to the literature on the conspiracy, The Cyprus Conspiracy:
America, Espionage, and the Turkish Invasion by British journalists Brendan O’Malley and
Ian Craig, charges the United States with complete knowledge of the Greek coup and
Turkish invasion plans. According to the authors, the U.S. had a consistent plan over a tenyear
period, based on a proposal developed by Dean Acheson during the 1963-4 crisis under
18 O’Malley, X.
19 O’Malley, VII-VIII.
20 William Mallinson, Cyprus: A Modern History (New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd, 2005), 75.
President Lyndon B. Johnson, to partition the island into Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot
areas. These actions were allegedly motivated by the island’s value as a military and
intelligence base in the Eastern Mediterranean combined with U.S. concerns over the “twin
threats of a communist takeover or British withdrawal.”18 The introduction states that the
book “reveals an astonishing international plot, developed from a blueprint evolved first
under British rule, then by U.S. President Johnson’s officials, the goals of which were finally
realised in 1974.”19 O’Malley and Craig’s work uses primarily British sources, several State
Department papers, and interviews to support their argument.
This theory is supplemented by other sources that cite its findings, such as William
Mallinson’s A Modern History of Cyprus. His book is intended to provide historical context
for the current crisis regarding Cyprus’ entrance into the European Union and imply the
correct policy for the international community. His history of the Cyprus conflict borrows
heavily from the work of O’Malley and Craig, however, when discussing the 1974 invasion.
The two-state Turkish invasion of Cyprus in the Summer of 1974 was the
culmination of ten years of planning by various U.S. government sectors, initiated
with the ‘Ball/Acheson’ plan for double enosis in 1964, in secret connivance with the
Turkish armed forces, with the British government looking on…20
Mallinson’s use of the word “conspiracy” in his work reinforces the legitimacy of the overall
There are two primary counterarguments to all of these authors I will emphasize in
my presentation of Cyprus’ crises. First, the U.S. did not have a coherent policy or a single
plan to drive events on the island during the ten-year period cited by the conspiracy theorists.
Rather, the U.S.’s policy toward Cyprus was shaped by events on the island, as the State
Department reacted to the crisis and relied heavily on contingency planning. The only
21 O’Malley, 77.
22 “U.S.-UK Installations in Cyprus,” Memorandum by Thomas Hughes to the Bureau of Intelligence and
Research, February 13, 1967, Record Group 59: General Records of the Department of State, Cyprus Crisis
Files, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD [hereafter cited as NARA, MD].
23 O’Malley, 129.
24 Jeffrey Richardson and Desmond Ball, The Ties That Bind: Intelligence Cooperation between the UKU.S.A
Countries – the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand
(Winchester: Allen & Unwin Inc., 1985), 19, 194.
consistent policy throughout each Cypriot crisis was that there must not be war between
NATO allies Greece and Turkey, and that any established solution must be the result of
negotiation and acceptable to all parties.
The second counterargument concerns U.S. interests both on Cyprus and in the
Eastern Mediterranean. I argue that the U.S. was not focused on the military or strategic
value of the island as an “unsinkable aircraft carrier,” through the use of the Sovereign Base
Areas or the communications facilities for intelligence purposes.21 The U.S. had already
established their facilities on the island before Cypriot independence, including two at Mia
Milia and Yerolakkos, a Naval Facility that also included a Radio Relay Station, and a
Foreign Broadcast Information Service station.22 An agreement with the Cypriot government
concluded in 1968 extended their functions for the next ten years.23 This indicates that
Makarios’ presidency and the status quo on the island would be better for the facilities’
operations than disruption in the form of a coup or an invasion. In addition, the U.S. had
access to similar Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ’s) under the UKUSA
agreement at Gibraltar and Sinop, Turkey, in addition to their own NATO facilities in Turkey
and the Sixth Fleet home-ported in Athens.24 On the contrary, the U.S. concentrated on the
need to contain the Soviet bloc and strengthen NATO’s southeastern flank against the
perceived Communist threat. As mentioned above, the U.S. observed the activities of
Makarios and his friendship with the Soviets with unease in the context of the Cold War.
Regardless, concern about the SBAs and communications facilities was not significant
enough to encourage the 1974 coup and subsequent invasion of an independent country as
well as a potential war between two of its own allies. These two arguments will be clarified
and supported through an analysis of the conspiracy theory’s specific statements regarding
each crisis followed by a description of the more accurate chronology of events using
25 O’Malley, 91-92.
26 Alan James, Keeping the Peace in the Cyprus Crisis of 1963-64 (New York: Palgrave, 2002), 68.
27 O’Malley, 94.
PART III. 1963-4: The Crises Begin
The Collapse of the Constitution and the Conspiracy Theorist’s Interpretation
On November 30, 1963, Archbishop Makarios revealed his thirteen point proposal to
amend the Cypriot Constitution. The amendments included controversial revisions to the
ratios within the armed forces, police forces, and civil services to reflect the actual division
of the population; the removal of the President and Vice-President’s veto rights; the
abolishment of the separate Turkish-speaking municipalities; and other adjustments to the
legislature. Turkey, speaking for the Turkish Cypriots, rejected the proposals outright and
tensions skyrocketed all across the island. The Turkish Cypriots left the Government of
Cyprus in protest and regrouped within their enclaves. According to O’Malley and Craig,
the intercommunal battles began on December 21st and escalated through Christmas Eve.25
On January 1, 1964, Makarios declared that the Treaties of Alliance and Guarantee were no
longer valid.26 By now, the conflict had grasped the attention of both Turkey and Britain
who decided to meet at a January peace conference in London, along with Greece, in order to
fulfill their roles as Guarantor powers.
In early February, the situation on the island had again deteriorated and
intercommunal clashes were increasing in intensity. O’Malley and Craig argue that, at this
time, the Americans and British “began colluding to support Turkish attempts to separate the
two communities and create the conditions that would make partition a practical military
objective.”27 U.S. Secretary of State George Ball, President Johnson, and other Washington
officials reportedly drew up a contingency plan that would “allow Turkey to invade Cyprus
28 O’Malley, 98-99; Mallinson, 36-37.
29 O’Malley, 246.
30 James, 60.
31 O’Malley, 102; Mallinson, 36.
32 O’Malley, 103.
and occupy a large area of the north of the island…to protect Turkish Cypriots.” This
invasion was to be a “deliberate and carefully controlled movement” consistent with
Turkey’s rights under the Treaty of Guarantee, in order to convince Makarios to accept a
joint U.S.-UK peace-keeping force on the island, protect the lives of the Turkish minority,
and avoid an armed clash with Greece. According to the plan, the Ambassador in Athens
would tell the Greeks to avoid military action against Turkey and allow Washington to
control the situation. 28 O’Malley and Craig state that their information came from one State
Department memo sent to George Ball from Assistant Secretary of State Philips Talbot on
February 14, 1964.29
The Guarantor powers agreed on a Joint Force, primarily made up of British troops
already on the island, to establish peace and end the clashes between Greek and Turkish
Cypriots.30 O’Malley and Craig argue that this peacekeeping force was in accordance with
Ball’s contingency plan and utilized tactics that made partition the most practical option.
They quote a news article from the Guardian in which Ball reportedly told the head of the
truce force patrols, “You’ve got it wrong son. There’s only one solution to this island and
that’s partition.”31 In addition, they cite a quote from a senior British intelligence officer,
which stated “We were helping to bring about a crude form of partition under which the
Turkish Cypriots occupied and administered certain parts of the island.”32 The British forces
attempted to maintain order on their own for three months.
Meanwhile, negotiations began on a NATO peacekeeping force that Makarios
rejected in favor of a neutral UN force. In early March, the UN agreed to create a UN peacekeeping
force (UNFICYP) “in the interest of preserving international peace and security,”
UN Security Council, Resolution 186, Article 5, March 4, 19 33 64, Found In American Foreign Policy: Current
Documents, 1964, (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1966), 566-567.
34 James, 117-119.
35 O’Malley, 104.
36 O’Malley, 105.
37 Mallinson, 37.
that would “use its best efforts to prevent a recurrence of fighting and, as necessary, to
contribute to the maintenance of law and order and a return to normal conditions.”33 After
significant pressures and negotiations, the force was composed of British (2,750), Canadian
(1,000), Finland (1,000), Swedish (1,000), and Danish (1,000) troops.34 In addition, UN
sponsored mediation would be conducted by Dr. Galo Plaza, a former president of Ecuador.
The conspiracy theorists note here the influence of American strategic interests on
UNFICYP’s operations and policies based on the fact that the U.S. covered 35 percent of the
operation’s costs.35 In addition, they claim that the UN force “assisted the grouping and
organisation of Turkish Cypriots that made the separate Turkish and American contingency
plans for Ankara’s troops to temporarily occupy a large portion of the island a more practical
option.”36 The British embassy in Washington also reported that:
…we could not agree to UNFICYP’s being used for the purpose of repelling external
intervention, and the standing orders to our troops outside UNFICYP are to withdraw
to the sovereign base areas immediately if any such intervention takes place.37
These quotes are intended to support the argument that the U.S. and the British were working
together to make partition and a Turkish invasion a viable contingency plan in order to
further their strategic interests on the island.
Intercommunal tension continued throughout the spring, however, despite the
presence of UNFICYP. The periodic battles for strongholds were highlighted by the struggle
for the Kyrenia road and Castle of St. Hilarion in April and a reported kidnapping of Turkish
Cypriots in early May. Relations on the island reached a breaking point at the beginning of
June, however. On June 1, 1964, Makarios declared that all Greek Cypriots between the
ages of eighteen and fifty were now on standby for conscription in order to create a new
Letter from President Johnson to Prime Minister Inonu, via telegram, June 5, 38 1964, Papers of Lyndon B.
Johnson, National Security File, Head of State Correspondence, Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, Austin, Texas.
39 O’Malley, 108.
40 Mallinson, 37.
41 O’Malley, 117; Stern, 84; Hitchens 2, 57-58.
National Guard. Turkey responded with preparations for a full-scale invasion of Cyprus. On
June 5, however, President Lyndon Johnson sent Turkish leader Ismet Inonu a “brutal” note
I hope you will understand that your NATO allies have not had a chance to consider
whether they have an obligation to protect Turkey against the Soviet Union if Turkey
takes a step which results in Soviet intervention, without the full consent and
understanding of its NATO allies.38
The letter convinced Inonu to wait 24 hours before initiating an intervention plan. During
the interim, agreements were reached to begin talks between the Greeks and the Turks
without the participation of Makarios. The crisis had effectively been averted.
O’Malley and Craig argue that the U.S. responded with a condemnation of the
Turkish intervention because the timing was no longer appropriate for the contingency plan
with a UN force in place on the island and a UN mediator working for a solution.39
Mallinson attributes the de-escalation to a firm Soviet stance in support of Cypriot freedom
Negotiations began between the Greeks and the Turks, but a consensus was
impossible to reach between their polarized positions. In addition, the Greek Cypriot
National Guard attacked Turkish Cypriot positions in early August and the island erupted in
chaos once again. O’Malley and Craig state that Ball and Dean Acheson had grown
frustrated with the lack of agreement and developed “an astonishing plot to use NATO to
force Greece and Turkey to split their differences over the Acheson proposals and accept the
result.”41 The plan involved the use of NATO pressure on the Greeks and the Turks. If that
tactic failed, the U.S. would insist that fighting be confined to the island, not involve U.S.
weapons, and not allow Greece and Turkey to use violence against each other. This solution
42 O’Malley, 116-117.
43 O’Malley, 119.
was described as a fait accompli and the only possible way to achieve peace. O’Malley and
Craig base these claims on a note contained within a general briefing for President Johnson
prior to a National Security Council meeting on August 19. The plan was also reportedly
discussed during a lunch on September 8.42
O’Malley and Craig argue that the plan was not used in 1964 because of “concern
over the dangerous turn of events in Vietnam.” Thus their discussion of the 1964 crisis ends
with the ominous statement that the “secret plans to divide Cyprus between Greece and
Turkey, if necessary by force, were left on the shelf—for now.”43 They argue that many of
the elements of the 1964 plans would reemerge during the 1974 crisis ten years later.
Embassy in Cyprus to the Department of State, telegram, 44 June 6, 1963, Department of State Central Files
[hereafter DSCF], POL 1, NARA, MD.
45 State Department to Cyprus, teleg., August 15, 1963, DSCF, POL 15, NARA, MD.
The Realities of U.S. Policy in 1963 and 1964
In this section, I will provide evidence that the U.S. State Department’s policy was in
favor of an independent, unified Cyprus with a government structure based on the original
Constitution. The U.S. made clear that all problems should either be worked out amongst the
Turkish and Greek Cypriots or, if necessary, in consultation with the Guarantor Powers. The
points raised by the conspiracy theorists will be addressed as well.
State Department documents show that the U.S. was aware of Makarios’ potential
plans to amend the Constitution in early June. Fraser Wilkins, the U.S. Ambassador to
Cyprus during this time, stated in a telegram, “Makarios said that he had reached [the]
conclusion in his own mind that it would be necessary to revise [the] Cypriot Constitution.”44
The State Department responded in early August with a telegram to Ambassador Wilkins.
Secretary of State Dean Rusk endorsed Wilkins’ views on the “validity [of the] constitution
and treaty,” as expressed to Makarios in April. In addition, the memo stated:
We continue [to be] convinced [that the] solution overall [to the] Cyprus problem lies
in patient piecemeal solution [to] specific problems such as [the] municipalities issue
and that this [is] possible [to] achieve on [the] island if both sides [are] willing [to]
exercise moderation. We [are] against any attempts [to] by-pass [the] Guarantor
Powers or involve [the] U.S. or UN.45
The telegram provides a clear statement of U.S. opposition to any drastic changes in
the Constitution and treaties as well as the need for the Cypriots themselves to reach an
agreement. The State Department would consistently reaffirm their support for the 1960
agreements during the months prior to the eruption of violence on the island. In April,
Undersecretary of State George Ball instructed Wilkins to “reaffirm our view, as expressed
State Department to Cyprus, teleg., April 28, 46 1963, DSCF, POL 18, NARA, MD.
47 Cyprus to State Department, teleg., August 27, 1963, DSCF, POL 15-5, NARA, MD.
48 October 28, 1963, Department of State S/S-NSC Files: Lot 72 D 316, Master files of National Security
Action Memoranda, 1961-1968, NARA, MD. Copies of this memorandum were also sent to the Secretary of
Defense and the Director of Central Intelligence.
on April 5, that [the] London-Zurich agreements and Constitution have continuing validity
and that necessary changes can be accomplished through [the] agreement [of] both
communities.”46 After the initial State Department response in early August, Wilkins again
reminded Makarios of the U.S. position during a meeting on August 27: “I recalled our
support for [the] continuing validity of [the] Constitution and treaties, as stated last April and
subsequently, subject to normal change by agreement between [the] two parties.”47
By early October, the developing issues in Cyprus had reached the attention of
President Johnson. He issued National Security Action Memorandum No. 266 stating, “we
should do all we can in cooperation with the Guarantor Powers to prevent a showdown
between the Greek and Turkish communities,” and requesting “recommendations on what
measures might be taken.”48 The State Department responded on October 28 with
recommendations involving a “three-power approach,” consisting of the Guarantor powers,
to Makarios and Kutchuk. The plan was intended “as a fallback position to the British plan,”
which promoted negotiations between the two communities and the Guarantor Powers. The
U.S.’s three-power approach, on the other hand, would “require the Cypriot leaders to
reaffirm support of the London-Zurich agreement and the Cyprus Constitution,” attempt to
settle the municipalities dispute, and revise London-Zurich to allow normal amendment
procedures.49 These recommendations were then distributed to the embassies in Cyprus,
Athens, Ankara, and London.
Makarios remained unconvinced that intercommunal negotiations would be sufficient
to solve the Constitutional issues and continued to develop his proposed amendments. On
November 26, Wilkins reported that Makarios “had virtually completed [a] memorandum
Cyprus to State Department, teleg., 50 DSCF, POL 15-5, NARA, MD.
51 State Department to Cyprus, teleg., November 27, 1963, DSCF, POL 15-5, NARA, MD.
52 Rusk to State Department, teleg., December 18, 1963, DSCF, POL 25, NARA, MD.
53 Cyprus to State Department, teleg., DSCF, POL 25, NARA, MD.
listing approximately ten constitutional provisions which required amendment.”50 In
addition to Wilkins’ urgings against this action, Rusk also sent a telegram instructing the
ambassador to state that “we are greatly disturbed at his constant references to ‘amendments’
of [the] constitution” as it would “stop GOT [Government of Turkey] and Turkish-Cypriot
cooperation before it got started.”51
Makarios released the amendments on November 30 despite these warnings and
Turkey promptly announced their rejection of any changes. The Secretary of State met with
the Cypriot Foreign Minister Spyros Kyprianou regarding the amendments in early
December. During the meeting, Rusk stated that the “U.S. feels that the two communities
should work out this problem in the first place and then the guarantor powers.” In addition,
he made clear that the “U.S. does not need this additional problem,” and that the U.S.’s
“primary concern is that whatever comes out of this be worked out by agreement.”52 Wilkins
confirmed this position in a meeting with Makarios on December 22. He stated that, “it
seemed to us preferable to work out solutions with [the] Turkish Cypriots through
discussions and that it still seemed to me that changes could be effected within [the]
framework of [the] Constitution.”53 The U.S. State Department’s policy, as communicated to
the involved parties, was therefore in favor of an independent, unified Cyprus with a
government structure based on the original Constitution. All problems should either be
worked out amongst the Turkish and Greek Cypriots or, if necessary, in consultation with the
The violence escalated during this period in December and the State Department
responded with concern, but limited involvement. Assistant Secretary Phillips Talbot
expressed this reaction to the Turkish Ambassador when he stated that the “U.S.G [U.S.
State Department to Cyprus, teleg., December 24, 54 1963, DSCF, POL 25, NARA, MD.
55 State Department to the Embassy in Turkey, teleg., December 24, 1963, DSCF, POL 25, NARA, MD.
56 President Johnson to Under Secretary of State Ball, telephone conversation, January 25, 1964, Recordings and
Transcript Files, Tape F64.07, Side B, Lyndon B. Johnson Library, Austin, Texas.
57 Memorandum of conversation, January 24, 1964, Department of State Files, Secretary’s Memoranda of
Conversation: Lot 65 D 330, NARA, MD.
58 Memorandum of Conference with President Johnson, January 25, 1964, National Security Files, File of
McGeorge Bundy, Miscellaneous Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library, Austin Texas.
59 President Johnson to Under Secretary of State Ball, telephone conversation, January 25, 1964, Recordings and
Transcripts, Tape 64.08, Side B, Lyndon B. Johnson Library, Austin, Texas.
60 Johnson to Ball, telephone conversation, January 28, 1964, ibid.
Government] shared GOT [Government of Turkey] concern over violence in Cyprus and
would continue [to] be helpful in any way possible,” but the “primary responsibility” belongs
to the Cypriot communities and the “special role” of the Guarantor Powers.”54 The U.S.
interpreted the violence as “hostilities not planned by either side,” and stated that the “armed
underground organizations [of] both communities are out of control.”55
The UK, Greece, and Turkey did ultimately meet regarding the crisis in January, but
the conference did not proceed smoothly. By the end of January, the UK had suggested a
NATO force with a U.S. contingent in order to establish peace on the island. According to
Ball, the British Ambassador Ormsby Gore reported that U.S. and NATO forces were
necessary because “putting additional British forces in is probably just going to make the
situation worse rather than better.”56 During a meeting with Gore, Ball agreed to discuss a
possible “token contribution” from the U.S. of a battalion of 1200 men.”57 Johnson
immediately vetoed the possibility, however, and stated “we should give no encouragement
to the UK to think that we would join in an allied force,” and, “we must do more in a
diplomatic way than we have so far.”58 He added, “I think that the British are getting to
where they might as well not be British anymore if they can’t handle Cyprus.”59 Thus the
U.S. continued to avoid direct involvement, maintained that the British should be primarily
responsible, and even criticized the UK for its inability to handle the situation.
Rather than troops, Johnson encouraged a plan of action that involved sending
someone to the region to “make an all out diplomatic effort.”60 In the end, Ball made the trip
Cyprus to State Department, teleg., 61 DSCF, POL 23-8, NARA, MD.
and began meeting with leaders in London, Ankara, and Athens in early February. On
February 9, Ball met with Cypriot Foreign Minister Kyprianou and informed him that “U.S.
concern with [the] Cyprus problem [is] prompted primarily by our concern with peace.” Ball
endorsed a peace-keeping force and a mediator, but refused to make any concrete promises
regarding U.S. participation. The Under Secretary then met with Makarios on February 13
and learned that the Archbishop planned to go “ahead with his foolish plan of sending an
expedition to ask the Security Council to try to undermine the Treaties of Guarantee by
seeking a resolution reaffirming the territorial integrity and political independence of
Cyprus,” an deal with an international force later. Ball berated Makarios with “a lurid
picture of the consequences that would entail from the folly he has proposed.” Ball
expressed concerns that Makarios was either “a prisoner or a fool or both,” and for the first
time recommended that “both governments…exercise the rights of unilateral intervention
granted them under the Treaties of Guarantee and move into Cyprus peacefully.”61
The U.S. was opposed to the involvement of the UN Security Council for two foreign
policy reasons. First, any Security Council decision had to involve Cold War politics and the
Soviet Union. The State Department believed the Soviet Union, non-aligned bloc, and other
countries were likely support Makarios’ move to undermine the Constitution and three
treaties. In this case, the U.S. would be forced to vote against the measure and damage its
own international relations and standing at the same time. Second, the U.S. had maintained
for the past year that the conflict should be decided by the communities on Cyprus and the
Guarantor Powers. The involvement of the UN would allow for the influence of the Soviet
Union and the non-aligned countries. As a result of this and other possible scenarios, the
U.S. opposed the internationalization of the Cyprus conflict outside of the Guarantor Powers.
State Department to Secretary of State Rusk, teleg., 62 DSCF, POL 27, NARA, MD.
63 State Department to Cyprus, teleg., DSCF, POL 23-8, NARA, MD.
64 Turkey to State Department, teleg., April 8, 1964, DSCF, POL 23-8, NARA, MD; Athens to State
Department, teleg., April 8, 1964, ibid; Turkey to State Department, teleg., May 12, 1964, ibid.
Ball’s recommendation of “double enosis” raises another issue, however, in that it
seems to confirm the conspiracy theorists’ hypothesis that the U.S. was interested in allowing
an invasion in 1964 in order to protect their strategic interests. This is not the only time that
Ball suggests this course of action; the conspiracy theorists mention his endorsement of the
possibility on February 14, but he also stated on May 10 that “I find Papandreou’s repeated
references to ‘enosis’ a healthy sign,” and “…[f]rom the point of view of all of NATO, we
should regard ‘enosis’ as a useful component in any final solution since it would mean that a
NATO government would have charge of the Island rather than the wolf in priest’s clothing.”
He qualifies his argument for enosis by stating that “there would have to be some kind of
territorial concessions by Greece” in order to receive Turkish agreement.62 On June 1, Ball
again states that “we seem to detect…that a territorial quid pro quo might be an ingredient in
an eventual settlement…we are anxious that these very fragile seeds be permitted to
germinate.”63 Thus Ball consistently felt that some form of double enosis or territorial
acquisition by both Greece and Turkey was the best way to achieve stability on the island.
Ball was not alone in his recommendations either, as other state department officials
made similar suggestions. In April, recently appointed Cyprus Ambassador Taylor Belcher
argued for either enosis or some form of associated status between Greece and Cyprus,
which would tie Cyprus to the West, reduce the danger of Communism, end the island’s nonaligned
policies, set back Soviet policy in the area, and provide the U.S. a friendly
government to negotiate with regarding its communications facilities. The Embassies in
Athens and Ankara immediately reported similar conclusions, while the Turkish Ambassador
Hare made clear that Turkey would insist on its presence on Cyprus as an “essential
ingredient in any solution involving abrogation of [the] present treaties.”64 Belcher then
Cyprus to State Department, teleg., June 6, 1964, ibid.; Cyprus to State 65 Department, teleg., June 12, 1964,
66 Tuomioja to Ball, memorandum of conversation, June 26, 1964, Department of State Files, Ball Papers: Lot
74 D 272, Lyndon B. Johnson Library, Austin.
67 Mission in Geneva (Acheson) to State Department, teleg., DSCF, POL 23-8, NARA, MD.
68 Mission in Geneva to State Department, teleg., August 2, 1964, ibid.
69 Mission in Geneva to State Department, teleg., August 6, 1964, ibid.
made an identical recommendation twice in June, but the communications facilities were
notably absent from the discussion.65 In late June, even the UN mediator Sakari Severi
Tuomioja stated that in his opinion, the “only basis is enosis, with whatever compensation is
necessary to make it palatable to the Turks.”66 With the exception of Belcher’s first
recommendation, all of the above officials described this form of solution as the best way to
achieve stability on the island with no mention of the strategic interests of the U.S..
While negotiating with the parties in Geneva, Dean Acheson also made several
references to the possibility of enosis or partition as possible forms of a solution for Cyprus.
These suggestions were made in the context of Acheson’s attempts to find a middle ground
between Greek and Turkish demands that the Cypriots could potentially accept. On July 14,
during a meeting with the Greek representative Demitiros Nikolareisis, Acheson proposed an
“arrangement within [the] framework of some sort of enosis which would give Turk-Cypriots
assurance that…their…way of life would be safeguarded.” This assurance would come from
the presence of areas of Turkish self-rule or the existence of some international authority.67
As negotiations continued, in early August, Acheson again stated that some form of
“plebiscite or other action on enosis could be precipitated” after an announcement had been
made that Turkish-Cypriot welfare would be safeguarded.68 An agreement between Greece
and Turkey regarding Cyprus must also be announced before hand, Acheson pointed out a
few days later, or the Turkish Government “would certainly fall.”69 On August 7, Acheson
also added the element of Turkish troops when he suggested that “popular upheaval [in]
Turkey could be overcome by [the] announcement that Turkish forces would shortly arrive
Mission in Geneva 70 to State Department, teleg., ibid.
71 Mission in Geneva to State Department, teleg., DSCF, POL 27, NARA, MD; President’s Special Assistant for
National Security Affairs (Bundy) and Robert Komer to President Johnson, memorandum, August 18, 1964,
National Security Files, Memos to the President, Lyndon B. Johnson Library, Austin.
72 State Department to United Kingdom, teleg., February 18, 1964; DSCF, POL 23-8, NARA, MD; Johnson to
Papandreou, letter, February 20, 1964, National Security File, Files of Robert W. Komer, Lyndon B. Johnson
not as enemies but by prior agreement.”70 He summed up these proposals on August 18 in a
telegram to the Department of State as well as the memorandum intended to brief President
Johnson before the National Security Council, which the conspiracy theorists also cite.71
Thus the conspiracy theorists are correct when they state that U.S. officials made
recommendations in favor of double enosis, enosis, or mutual territorial acquisition for
Greece and Turkey during this time. The conspiracy theorists falsely argue that these
recommendations constituted U.S. official policy at the highest level of the administration
for the next decade. As early as the 1964 crisis, evidence exists that this was not the case:
Johnson never endorsed such a plan, other officials—including Acheson himself—ultimately
rejected the proposals, and the State Department later acknowledged the mistakes it made
during this particular crisis and altered its policy accordingly.
From the beginning of the crisis, President Johnson argued that the British should
take primary responsibility for the Cyprus situation and reach a negotiated solution with the
other Guarantor Powers. Apart from the evidence shown above, Johnson also sent letters to
the British Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home and Greek Prime Minister George
Papandreou with statements to that effect.72 As the crisis developed, he informed George
Ball via telephone that the U.S. would not be directly involved in an international
peacekeeping force. His letter to Turkish Prime Minister Inonu on June 5 argued against
Turkish intervention, and the partition that would result, in the strongest diplomatic terms
possible. In a telephone conversation several days later, Johnson told Rusk, “I think that the
last thing we want him [Inonu] to do is let me be the peacemaker and later wind up on my
June 9, 1964, Recordings and Transcripts, 73 Tape 64.31, Side A, Lyndon B. Johnson Library, Austin.
74 Department of State Files, Ball Papers: Lot 74 D 272, Lyndon B. Johnson Library, Austin.
75 State Department to Greece, teleg., August 16, 1964, DSCF, POL 27, NARA, MD.
76 Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President—McGeorge Bundy, Vol. 6.; Footnote 3 on
this document, found in Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968: Volume XVI, Cyprus; Greece;
Turkey, ed. James E. Miller (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 2000), 309.
77 Rusk to State Department, teleg., May 11, 1964, Department of State Central Files, POL 23-8, NARA, MD.
lap. I think we ought to carry it right to Ankara and Athens,” and later, “…I have no
solution. I can’t propose anything.”73 He made the same position clear to Greek
Ambassador Alexander Matsas on June 11: outside powers cannot solve the situation and
the Greeks and Turks must settle it themselves in the least humiliating and most permanent
manner possible.74 Johnson supported the Acheson negotiations and endorsed a decision
based on his proposals for the minority community and the principle of a Turkish base.75
At the September 8 lunch, however, Acheson and Ball’s proposed intervention plan
was discussed and Johnson was overtly pessimistic about the idea. He “indicated his own
doubt that the plan as put forward could in fact be neatly and tightly controlled, without risk
of escalation,” and “noted that the next two months were not a good season for another war.”
Acheson, Ball, and Bundy discussed the meeting later and Acheson expressed his opinion
that the President “wanted to make sure nothing happens.”76 The negotiations are
emphasized as the most effective route to a solution from this point on, which indicates that
Johnson vetoed the proposed NATO plan. Thus Johnson never explicitly accepted a double
enosis plan. Any secret plan to “NATO-ize” Cyprus would have needed Johnson’s support
In addition, other State Department officials later rejected Acheson and Ball’s
recommendations. In a conversation with Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Erkin, Rusk
reminded the official that “the President had referred to intervention as a ‘last resort,’” and
this act would “constitute no solution…the very catastrophe which all of us should now work
to prevent.”77 On June 9, Rusk expressed concern about the negotiations and requested
Rusk to Johnson, telephone conversation, June 9, 1964, Recordings and Transcripts, 78 Tape 64.31, Side A,
Lyndon B. Johnson Library, Austin.
79 Rusk to State Department, DSCF, POL 27, NARA, MD.
80 State Department to Greece, Ankara, Paris, Nicosia, London, DSCF, POL 27, NARA, MD.
Ball’s return to the U.S. in order to “be sure that we are all on the same track here and see
where we are going.” He argued that:
…you [Johnson] and he [Ball] and I and our people working on this should come to a
final conclusion on what we ought to shoot for. And there is no conclusion on that at
the moment, and the conclusion that they have been talking about in London is
something that will almost guarantee the Turks would intervene and this is what
Rusk never explicitly argued against the double enosis concept, but he expressed doubts
about its potential success and concern for its consequences.
Acheson himself later argued against enosis as a solution in August. On the 19th he
telegrammed the Department of State and stated, “Instant enosis…seems to us here to
contain [the] fatal flaw that [the] Turks will not stand still for it or after it unless they have
prior assurance…that it will be quickly followed by [a] settlement meeting their essential
demands.”79 By September 3, Rusk offered a new arrangement to the embassies in Athens,
Ankara, London, and Nicosia. The main points of the arrangement for Greece required it to
restore normal conditions on the island, assist in rehabilitation and resettlement of Turkish
Cypriot refugees, avoid military support to Cyprus against Turkey, and prevent Cyprus from
receiving military aid from other countries. Turkey would agree not to intervene militarily,
prevent the Turkish Cypriots from restarting violence, and avoid provoking Greece.80 These
recommendations marked a significant shift from the suggestions of double enosis, but the
ambassadors—Ambassador Hare in particular—generally agreed that this strategy was the
most effective to maintain peace for the moment. On December 29, even Ball stated, “we
see no solution in [the] direction [of] either enosis or double enosis,” and “if progress
appears possible toward [an] independent Cyprus with [the] protection of the Turk minority,
State Department to Turkey, teleg., 81 DSCF, POL 27, NARA, MD.
82 Cyprus to State Department, October 6, 1964, DSCF, POL 27, NARA, MD; Turkey to State Department,
November 30, 1964, ibid.
we should strive for this,” and that the next step should be negotiations.81 The U.S. would
consistently favor this policy for the next several years.
Therefore, while the U.S. considered and even favored the possibility of double
enosis or enosis with Turkish acquisition of territory, the plan was ultimately rejected based
on the changed conditions on the island in favor of negotiations. This directly counters the
conspiracy theorists’ argument that the policy was set aside until the crisis in 1974. There is
no denying, however, that the State Department’s endorsement of double enosis at this time
demonstrates a poor grasp of the Cyprus situation’s political realities. The U.S. deliberately
chose to deal only with the leaders of the Guarantor Powers and negotiate over the heads of
Makarios and the Cypriots. U.S. officials believed it would be simpler to negotiate a Greco-
Turkish solution and impose it on Makarios rather than including him in the process. The
flaws in this position became clear and the State Department realized its error. Ambassador
Belcher reported on October, 6 1964, that “Makarios himself is becoming ever stronger with
a popular base spread throughout all sectors on the island,” and Hare reported that “Makarios
and Makarios alone will call [the] tune as to [the] timing and nature of any significant
steps…[which] has obvious implications for our long-standing assumption that [the] nub of
[the] problem was to get GOT and GOG talking.”82 Therefore the U.S. made demonstrable
errors based on a poor understanding of Makarios’ influence as well as the need to include
Cypriots in any negotiation.
The other crucial aspect of the conspiracy theorists’ argument concerns the U.S.
communications facilities on Cyprus. The conspiracy theorists’ fail to effectively define
what they mean by term “communications facilities.” State Department documents describe
several US installations on the island that include a Radio Relay Office operated by Naval
Popper (NEA) to Coerr (INR), “Future of Department’s 83 Radio Relay Office,” memorandum, September 30,
1971, Record Group 59.
84 Cyprus to State Department, teleg., November 9, 1973, Record Group 59: Central Foreign Policy Files,
Electronic Telegrams, 1/1/1974 – 12/31/1974, National Archives Archival Databases,
http://aad.archives.gov/aad/createpdf?rid=98140&dt=1573&dl=823 [accessed 10 November 2007].
85 Memorandum of conversation, Department of State Files, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 65 D
330, NARA, MD; State to Cyprus, teleg., August 15, 1963, DSCF, POL 15, NARA, MD.
86 State to Cyprus, teleg., August 15, 1963, DSCF, POL 15, NARA, MD.
87 Talbot to INR, memorandum, Record Group 59: General Records of the Department of State, Bureau of Near
Eastern and South Asian Affairs (NEA), Office of the Country Director for Cyprus, Records Relating to Cyprus,
1963-1972, NARA, MD.
personnel, “communications facilities” at Mia Milia and Yerolakkos, and a Foreign
Broadcast Information Service station.83 The U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus, Grant, stated that
they were for monitoring and reporting on “radio broadcasts from the countries in this area,”
and handling “relay traffic for the Department of State.”84 In this paper, when referring to
communications facilities, these are the installations I refer to that were most likely used for
intelligence and monitoring purposes.
During this crisis the facilities are mentioned periodically. The first instance
describes them as an interest that the U.S. has on the island, as on January 24, 1964 in a
meeting with British Ambassadors.85 While the potential for a problem was discussed once
as well, it is worth noting that Makarios never used them as leverage to gain U.S. support
during this particular crisis.86 On September 11 of the same year, Assistant Secretary of
State for Near Eastern Affairs Phillips Talbot reported on the facilities to the Bureau of
Intelligence and Research. He stated that the communications operations were “significantly
curtailed as a result of the February 1964 evacuation and by subsequent additional personnel
reductions or transfers of activity away from Cyprus.” He claimed “the curtailment would
affect the value of the operations but that it would be tolerable on a reasonably temporary
basis.”87 These statements indicate that, while the facilities did have some value, they were
not so significant that their functions could not be moved elsewhere for a period of time.
This counters the conspiracy argument that claims their operations were significant enough
to endorse an invasion of the island for their protection. At this time, then, the U.S. moved
into the next crisis without serious concerns about the future of its facilities, but
encouragement of the use of negotiations to achieve stability in the region.
88 James, 170.
89 O’Malley, 123-124.
90 O’Malley, 124.
91 O’Malley, 124-125.
PART IV. 1967: Another Crisis Averted
The Reemergence of Hostilities and the Conspiracy Theorist’s Interpretation
Between 1965 and 1966, Cyprus experienced a period of uneasy peace as
intercommunal negotiations slowly progressed. The Turkish Cypriots continued to operate
their own administration outside of the internationally recognized government of the
Republic of Cyprus. The two communities were not absolutely divided, however, as the UN
Green Line was porous, arms remained widely distributed, and intercommunal incidents
could easily escalate.88 UNFICYP worked diligently to contain the tensions through local
During this period, the conspiracy theorists’ argue that Britain’s declining economy
and reduction of military presence around the world under Prime Minister Harold Wilson
angered American leaders. This included the 1966 announcement that Britain was reducing
its forces in Cyprus, Aden, Malta, Guyana, and other areas of Southwest Asia such as
Singapore and Malaya.89 According to O’Malley and Craig, “[t]his marked the beginning of
the end of Britain’s role as a worldwide military power, and alerted the Americans to the
prospect that one day they might lose the use of the Cyprus facilities.”90 American concerns
were allegedly compounded by the new Middle Eastern crisis that included the
nationalization of the Suez Canal by Nasser and the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War. The authors
argue that loss of both the Canal and Middle Eastern oil led to an increase in the British
economic crisis and a cut of over 150,000 military and civilian personnel, which again
infuriated the Americans.91
92 O’Malley, 129; Stern, 107.
The political situation was complicated by a military coup in Greece on April 21,
1967. Whether or not the U.S. was involved in or supported the right-wing military faction
under George Papadopoulos that took over the Greek government is outside the scope of this
paper, although some of the conspiracy theorists—such as Lawrence Stern—argue this was
the case. The change in government had implications for the situation in Cyprus, as the junta
developed an aggressive, nationalistic stance on the Cyprus issue that would help bring about
a crisis. Tense negotiations continued both at the intercommunal level as well as between
Greece and Turkey.
The situation exploded after Greek Cypriot forces led by George Grivas launched
attacks on two Turkish Cypriot villages, Ayios Theodoros and Kophinou in November 1967.
The incident escalated and, in response, Turkey again began amassing forces for an
intervention. The U.S. sent Cyrus Vance on a diplomatic mission of “shuttle diplomacy” to
convince Turkey to back down and avoid war within NATO. Turkey demanded the
withdrawal of all Greek forces greater than the limits set down in the Treaty of Alliance, a
total of 10,000 troops, as well as the removal of Grivas. Greece agreed and the crisis was
averted, for the moment. The Greek junta would use other tactics to increase their influence
on Cyprus instead.
O’Malley and Craig are the only conspiracy theorists who mention an agreement
concluded in 1968 that permitted the U.S. to continue using their communications facilities
on the island. They claim that the CIA was also permitted to access the British bases,
establish their own radio monitors, and build secret antennae for the U.S. intelligence
network at the cost of $1 million dollars in a secret fund.92 They fail to state whether or not
this assuaged U.S. fears about the loss of those facilities.
93 O’Malley, 130.
94 O’Malley, 130.
O’Malley and Craig also argue that Johnson was the “crucial restraining influence on
both the Turks and his own senior officials, such as George Ball and Dean Acheson, who
wanted NATO to force a partition on Cyprus.”93 They state that the U.S. had already
abandoned the concept of guaranteed independence for a united Cyprus and accepted that
Turkey could one day be allowed to occupy part of Cyprus. Their evidence lies in the plans
devised by Acheson and Ball. The conspiracy theory’s description of the second crisis ends
with ominous concerns about the future because, as they argue, Nixon and Kissinger “had
fewer qualms about the kind of covert action needed to get rid of Makarios.”94
State Department to the Mission to the UN, teleg., January 95 29, 1966, DSCF, POL 27-14 CYP/UN, NARA,
MD. This telegram was also sent to Athens, Ankara, Nicosia, London, and Paris.
96 Memorandum of conversation, February 21, 1966, DSCF, POL 27, NARA, MD.
97 Memorandum of conversation, DSCF, POL 27, NARA, MD.
98 State Department to Turkey, May 31, 1966, DSCF, POL 27, NARA, MD.
The Realities of U.S. Policy in 1967
In January of 1966, the Secretary Rusk renewed the U.S. recommendation that “what
is needed at this time to move [the] Cyprus problem off dead center is [the] resumption [of]
active UN mediation,” and stated, “[the] Department tends to agree that, to obtain GOT
acceptance of any formula, it may be necessary to continue [the] prohibition against enosis at
least for [a] time.” Thus the U.S. believed the UN should be the primary mediator and enosis
was still not a valid overall solution.95 Turkey, however, disagreed with this assessment and
began demanding more significant U.S. involvement. In February, the new Turkish Foreign
Minister Caglayangil told the U.S. Ambassador that the U.S. “had an important role to play,”
and “if U.S.-Turk agreement on [the] best alternative [was] reached, [the] U.S. would then,
he hoped, use its influence to achieve results.”96 Several months later, on April 22,
Caglayangil met with Secretary Rusk and argued that the U.S. should “influence Makarios
and the Greek Government to see that nothing happens.”97 Turkey also released an aidemémoire
that Ball described as “a clever diplomatic move to involve [the] U.S. more deeply
in [the] Cyprus problem.”98
The State Department, however, responded with a message that deliberately refused
to endorse significant U.S. involvement. Ball stated, “The United States Government
sympathizes with those who have suffered hardships as a result of unsettled conditions on the
island,” and, “The U.S. is closely following and encouraging the efforts of the UN Secretary-
General’s personal representative, Ambassador Bernardes, to bring about improved
100 Greece to State Department, teleg., September 15, 1966, DSCF, POL 27; State Department to Greece, teleg.,
September 19, 1966, ibid.; Turkey to State Department, teleg., October 22, 1966, ibid.
101 State Department to Greece, teleg., September 15, 1967, ibid.
102 State Department to Cyprus, teleg., ibid.
103 Turkey to State Department, teleg., November 18, 1967, ibid.
conditions on the island.” He went on to endorse the Turkish and Greek government
intentions to begin talks regarding Cyprus and described it as “a most encouraging
development which will permit consideration of the means of achieving a settlement.”99
Explicit support from Rusk and the ambassadors for the secret Greek-Turkish dialogue
would continue throughout the following year.100 In September 1967, Rusk again endorsed
the discussions and stated that the “important thing now is that talks continue, and that real
effort be made [to] compromise on differences which, if substantial, do not seem [to] be
irreconcilable.”101 Thus the U.S. maintained its distance from the Cyprus problem and
limited its actions to endorsement of Guarantor Power negotiations.
The negotiations ultimately failed, however, and violence erupted once again in
November 1967. On November 17, President Johnson sent a message to Archbishop
Makarios appealing to him “to do everything within the power of your Government to reduce
the threat to peace now hanging over your region.”102 He also sent a similar message to
Caglayangil, who responded:
At such an hour I expected that a message coming from a country with which we
have a common destiny would be different…I had expected that given this situation
our American friends would come and tell us that they regret that they have prevented
in the past a Turkish initiative and that they would say: ‘Now the decision is
Johnson’s message had clearly not met the Turkish expectations. The Turks immediately
demanded the removal of all Greek troops and the U.S. sent Under Secretary of Defense
Cyrus Vance to negotiate a ceasefire starting on November 23. In the meantime, Rusk sent a
telegram to all the involved ambassadors stating that “the stakes are such that the future of
State Department to Turkey, 104 Greece, Cyprus, November 23, 1967, ibid.
105 Summary Notes of the 578th Meeting of the National Security Council, November 29, 1967, National
Security File, NSC Meetings File, Vol. 4, Lyndon B. Johnson Library, Austin.
106 Greece to State Department, November 27, 1967, DSCF, POL 7, NARA, MD.
107 Greece to State Department, November 30, 1967, ibid.
our bilateral relations is secondary to the prevention of hostilities between Greece and
We need not apologize to any of your host governments for the harshest pressures we
may put on the interest of maintaining peace. The issues in Cyprus itself are, strictly
from the point of view of the U.S. national interest, trivial compared to peace
between Greece and Turkey. Our responsibility is to support that central U.S.
This message was clearly not an endorsement of double enosis or an explicit encouragement
of military intervention by either party in order to maintain communications facilities. Rusk
was making clear that stability and prevention of war between NATO allies was the ultimate
goal at any necessary expense.
Vance was able to achieve a ceasefire that involved the removal of all Greek troops
from Cyprus. The State Department heaped praise on Vance for his efforts and stated that
“without his activity, Turkey would now be at war with Greece.”105 Vance, however,
emphasized in a telegram that his object was “to stop [the] outbreak of war and not to solve
all [the] problems of Cyprus,” thus significant issues remained.106 His most serious problem
was convincing Makarios to go along with the Greek-Turkish agreement. Makarios
protested the need for “an enlarged and improved mandate for UNFICYP” without further
discussion in the UN Security Council as such changes could cause issues with manpower
and authority in the future.107 He continued to reject this portion of the agreement into
December, and ultimately Vance left Cyprus for Athens without Makarios’ support.
The crisis had been averted, however, and the ceasefire held. In January of 1968, the
U.S. began to discuss its overall strategy for Cyprus once again. Rusk recommended that the
U.S. either provide “strong support for the United Nations mediation of a longer-term
Rusk to Johnson, memorandum, January 17, 108 1968, DSCF, POL 27, NARA, MD.
109 Memorandum for the Record, January 24, 1968, National Security File, NSC Meetings File, Vol. 4, Lyndon
B. Johnson Library, Austin.
110 Greece to State Department, teleg., February 9, 1968, DSCF, POL 27, NARA, MD.
111 Turkey to State Department, teleg.,, March 6, 1968, ibid.
112 Cyprus to State Department, teleg., August 2, 1968, ibid.
settlement, or support for its mediation of interim measures while we take over the search for
a long-term settlement.”108 The majority of State Department officials, however, lacked
confidence in the ability of UN mediation to reach an effective solution. This was most
evident during an NSC meeting from January 24, where Assistant Secretary of State Lucius
Battle, Cyrus Vance, Joseph Sisco, and Secretary Rusk agreed that “we are not optimistic
about what U Thant [the current UN mediator] can achieve and should not let him fail
without having something of our own ready to put in his place.”109
In light of these recommendations, a proposal was put forward that the Canadians
would initiate a plan for a conference between Greece, Turkey, Greek Cypriot, and Turkish
Cypriot representatives. The conference would attempt to complement U Thant’s mediation
work and discuss a viable constitution for Cyprus.110 The initiative ultimately fell through,
however, while the UN Secretary General pushed forward a proposal for discussions
between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots only.111 The post-crisis momentum for
negotiations rapidly dissipated in the following months.112
U.S. policy before, during, and after this particular crisis raises several questions for
the conspiracy theorists. If the State Department, run by primarily the same group of
officials as in 1963-4, was intent on a NATO partition of the island through a Greek-Turkish
invasion, how would the conspiracy explain the emphasis on maintaining a negotiation
process? In addition, why did the Acheson-Ball plan, as laid out in the August 19 memo,
never resurface as a viable option during the November crisis? These are questions that the
theorists do not address in their respective works. The clearest answer is that the U.S. State
Department no longer considered endorsement or encouragement of double enosis or enosis
“U.S.-UK Installations in Cyprus,” Thomas Hughes to Granville 113 Austin, memorandum, February 13, 1967,
Record Group 59: General Records of the Department of State, Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian
Affairs (NEA), Office of the Country Director for Cyprus, Records Relating to Cyprus 1963-1972, NARA, MD.
an effective way to create stability on Cyprus. Officials had come to the conclusion that any
solution must be negotiated between the most significantly involved parties, which now
included the Cypriots and did not include the United States.
The conspiracy theorists also point out both the decline of British influence in the
Middle East during this period and the rise of U.S. involvement in the region. They argue
that this is relevant because the British decline involved a reduction in its military presence
in the Mediterranean, including the SBAs on Cyprus. This allegedly caused consternation
among U.S. officials, since the SBAs were a crucial strategic asset. I argue that this point is
largely irrelevant because the communications installations and the SBAs were not the U.S.’s
prime concern on Cyprus. As the above description of the realities of U.S. policy during
1963 and 1964 shows, the U.S. was first and foremost interested in preventing war between
NATO allies and avoiding a significant conflict in the Mediterranean.
Additional documents show that the U.S. was not worried about the SBAs or their
future status. In February 1967, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) prepared a
memorandum regarding the U.S. and UK installations in Cyprus. The report describes the
value of the SBAs to the Cyprus economy and states that the bases “provide the margin that
puts Cyprus economically in a better position than most other countries of the Eastern
Mediterranean.” As a result, the Cypriots were not likely to protest their existence in the
future for economic reasons. In addition, the document describes the withdrawal of
personnel from the bases: approximately 3000 of the 4950 troops from only the Dhekelia
base would “probably be completed by September,” while the British would continue to
maintain approximately 8000 men. The INR expressed no concern or anger at this reduction
in forces within the memorandum.113 This indicates that the U.S. did not appear overtly
Memorandum of conversation: Privileges and Immunities, 114 January 9, 1965, Record Group 59, ibid.
115 Memorandum of conversation: Privileges and Immunities – Radio Stations, February 4, 1965, ibid.
116 “Draft Agreement,” September 1967, ibid. (An attached memorandum indicated that this draft was identical
to the final agreement.)
angry about the reduction in forces at this time and the British still maintained a sizable
number of troops on the island.
The U.S. communications facilities were also not a serious concern during this time,
as indicated by further documents that describe the diplomatic negotiations to finalize the
stations’ existence from 1965-1968. The two groups of representatives met on January 9,
1965 to create an official agreement based on Makarios’ informal promise in 1960 to allow
the facilities to remain with the possibility of financial compensation to Cyprus.114
Negotiations slowly continued until February 4 when the Mr. G. Phylaktis of the Ministry of
Finance raises the first serious objection to the facilities’ existence. He argued that the U.S.
was “asking for too much, ‘a state within a state,’” and claimed the Cyprus government
“must now make the determination whether it wished to have the radio stations at all.”
According to the memorandum of the meeting, the other members of the Cypriot negotiating
team immediately countered Phylaktis statement by stating that there was “no doubt that that
one question had been settled in the affirmative some time ago” by Makarios and the rest of
the Cyprus government. The question was not raised again throughout the remained of the
discussions.115 This indicates that the existence of the facilities was no longer a negotiable
issue, as agreement had already been established that their functions could continue. The
U.S. had no reason to be concerned about their future.
The final agreement was concluded in 1968 and authorized the existence of facilities
in Nicosia, Yerolakkos, and Mia Milia. It also gave the U.S. the ability to “establish,
maintain, and operate radio land lines, high frequency, very high frequency, ultra high
frequency, microwave communications networks and to receive and dispatch
communications and other allied equipment for this purpose.” 116 The Cypriots would be
William Handley to Ball, “Approval of Agreement with Cyprus Concerning 117 Radio Facilities,” teleg., ibid.
118 Stern, 91; Hitchens, 80; Christopher Hitchens, Cyprus (London: Quartet Books Limited, 1984), 75.
119 Stern, 87-88; Hitchens, Cyprus, 71.
reimbursed $1.4 million dollars annually “for the life of the agreement for services
rendered.” This is possibly the $1 million dollars the conspiracy theorists mention. It was
not a “secret fund,” for Makarios, but rather a negotiated annual compensation.117 There was
therefore no reason for the U.S. to consider a NATO plan to protect SBA’s that were under
thorough British control or communications facilities secured by an international treaty. The
status quo on the island was in fact better for the U.S. facilities and their operations, whereas
dramatic changes in the power structure—such as a coup or an invasion—would have a
detrimental impact on their continued existence.
PART V. 1968-1973: The Calm Before the Storm
President Richard Nixon was known as a fervent anti-Communist and, once in office
in 1968, he normalized relations with the Greek junta and restored the country’s military aid.
The conspiracy theorists use Nixon’s extreme anti-Communism and support for the junta to
support their argument that he was consistently infuriated by Makarios’ non-aligned policy
and contacts with the Soviets. Nixon and Kissinger’s dislike of Makarios’ political
allegiances was allegedly sufficient to encourage his removal from the Cypriot Presidency.118
This period is also notable for the number of attempts on Makarios’ life. The first
incident was an attack on his personal helicopter in March of 1970, in which Stern and
Hitchens hint the CIA may have had a part.119 The Archbishop managed to escape the fiery
120 O’Malley, 132.
121 Stern, 71; Hitchens, Cyprus, 75-76.
inferno unscathed. Second, in 1972, a group of bishops within the Greek Orthodox Church
demanded Makarios’ resignation from the Presidency as it conflicted with his ecclesiastical
duties. As Archbishop, Makarios convened a Holy Synod in 1973 and defrocked the
rebellious bishops in retaliation. Two additional potential plots emerged later that year; the
first was reportedly organized by General George Grivas, while the second involved land
mines that exploded just moments before Makarios’ car drove past. These assassination
attempts have been credibly linked to the work of the junta through their officers in the
Greek Cypriot National Guard. The conspiracy theorists use this connection to the junta as
evidence that Nixon overtly backed the removal of Makarios, since he supported the Greek
One month later, in June of 1971, Makarios made an eight-day visit to the Soviet
Union to gain further support for the territorial integrity and independence of Cyprus. In the
meantime, General Grivas returned to Cyprus, possibly with junta support, and began
reorganizing the EOKA forces into a new group, EOKA-B. U.S. concerns about the
Communist influence on Cyprus were already high, but they peaked early in 1972 when
Makarios acquired a significant amount of Czechoslovakian arms for his police force. The
threat of a military takeover by Greece loomed once again, but warnings against such a move
by the U.S. Ambassador Henry Tasca managed to end the crisis.
Despite the Greek junta’s contentious domestic and international policies, the U.S.
decided to begin home-porting the Sixth Fleet at the Greek port of Piraeus in September of
1972. This was interpreted as a controversial vote of confidence in the regime to the benefit
of U.S. naval power in the Mediterranean.121 The criticism of home-porting only increased
after an internal coup in November of 1973 pushed Papadopoulos out of power and installed
the leader of the military police, Brigadier Dimitrios Ioannides, as the new head of the Greek
122 O’Malley, 140.
123 O’Malley, 141.
124 O’Malley, 145.
125 O’Malley, 150.
126 O’Malley, 150.
junta. Ioannides was a more radical and unpredictable member of the government’s rightwing
military faction, which would have consequences for Greece’s policy towards Makarios
and Cyprus within the next year.
The conspiracy theorists, O’Malley, Craig, and Mallinson in particular, argue that this
period from 1973 to 1974 was also one of the most dangerous times during the Cold War and
the nuclear arms race. They cite the Yom Kippur war between Arabs and Israelis in 1973,
growing Soviet success in the advancement of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs),
and the instability in Greece under Ioannides as evidence of the critical nature of these
years.122 As a result of this danger, they argue the U.S. needed to closely monitor Soviet
nuclear capabilities and missile test launches more than ever. British spy stations and
airfields in Cyprus as well as U.S. facilities in Turkey and Iran were allegedly important to
maintain an American advantage.123
O’Malley and Craig claim, however, that the British were not cooperative with the
U.S. concerning the use of their facilities, particularly during the Yom Kippur War. In fact,
the British reportedly denied the U.S. any use of the airfield at Akrotiri in order to reinforce
the Israelis.124 In addition, O’Malley and Craig argue that the British wanted to remove all
military forces from Cyprus up until July of 1974, based on information from a political
adviser to the British Foreign Secretary.125 Thus, “[n]ot only could the Americans no longer
be sure that Britain would let them use the Cyprus facilities when they most needed them,
but now they could not be sure there would be any facilities left to use at all”126 This
allegedly contributed to the U.S. concerns about their strategic interests in Cyprus and
convinced them that a Greek coup as well as a Turkish invasion of the island would be in
their best interest.
127 Stern, 95.
128 O’Malley, 152.
PART VI. 1974: The Final Showdown
January to July 15,1974: The Greek Coup and its Immediate Aftermath
The tumultuous year of 1974 opened with the death of legendary EOKA and EOKAB
leader George Grivas. The conspiracy theorists make the generally accepted claim that
Ioannides and Greek National Guard took control of EOKA-B’s activities at this time.127
O’Malley and Craig also state that in April, “some American officials demanded that
Washington put pressure on the colonels to warn them off taking action against Makarios,
but the State Department did nothing.”128
To further complicate the situation, relations between Turkey and Greece began to
break down over oil rights, territorial control of islands in the Aegean, ownership of the
continental shelf, and the Turkish population in Thrace. Turkey exacerbated the situation by
authorizing studies of oil existence and granting oil exploration permits in areas of the
Aegean involved in territorial disputes. Greek leader Ioannides was radically anti-Turkish
and was willing to go to war over many of these issues in addition to Cyprus.
After the string of assassination attempts and further evidence of Greek interference
on Cyprus, Makarios began to act. On July 1, he attempted to reduce the size of the Greekinfiltrated
National Guard. The next day, he sent an open letter to the powerless Greek
President Phaedon Ghizikis that challenged the actions of the Greek government in Cyprus.
He stated, “More than once I have sensed, and on one occasion almost touched, the invisible
hand stretched out from Athens seeking to destroy my human existence,” and “I am not a
district governor appointed by the Greek government, but the elected leader of a great section
R.R. Denktash, The Cyprus Triangle (Winchester: Allen & Unwin Inc. 129 , 1982), 122. This quote can be found
in almost any book on Cypriot history.
of Hellenism, and as such I demand appropriate treatment from the mother country.”129 He
demanded the recall of all the Athenian officers within the National Guard.
On July 15, Makarios’ palace in Nicosia was attacked by the National Guard, the
President was declared dead, and the installation of a new government under Nicos Sampson
was announced. Makarios had in fact escaped to Paphos and was taken from there to
Akrotiri, one of the British SBA’s. The RAF flew him to Malta and then on to London.
Meanwhile, fighting spread throughout the island between pro-Makarios forces and the
National Guard. The Turkish-Cypriots immediately became concerned for the safety of their
community and called for support from Turkey. Turkey responded by sending their leader,
Bulent Ecevit, to London to suggest a joint military response from the base at Akrotiri as
Guarantor powers. British Prime Minister Wilson refused and instead called for tripartite
talks as he sent a British task force towards Cyprus. Kissinger sent Joseph Sisco on July 18
as his representative to attempt negotiations between the Greeks and Turks and stave off war
Turkey invaded the port city of Kyrenia on July 20, 1974 and took control of the
Kyrenia-Nicosia road, which enabled them to connect with the Turkish-Cypriot enclave in
the capital. Atrocities were reported by both sides as fighting raged across the island. At this
time a British task-force arrived in Cyprus solely to secure their bases and civilians, not to
deter further Turkish military actions. By the end of July the Cyprus crisis of 1974 had
reached a violent climax.
Who is to Blame for the Coup?
130 Hitchens, Cyprus, 69.
131 Stern, 114.
132 O’Malley, 162.
133 O’Malley, 163; Stern, 97.
The Conspiracy Theorists’ Argument
The conspiracy theorists’ have three primary reasons why the U.S. must have been
involved in the Greek-orchestrated coup on Cyprus on July 15: the “two-track diplomacy”
that was characteristic of both Nixon and Kissinger, the repeated warnings of the coup’s
imminence, and Kissinger’s neutral response to events. Each argument will be explained in
more detail here and countered in the discussion of the realities of U.S. policy in subsequent
The conspiracy first claims that Nixon and Kissinger operated with a system of “twotrack
diplomacy.”130 This method of policy-making primarily involved keeping the majority
of political advisers in the dark.131 O’Malley and Craig state that, “Kissinger believed it was
easier to change policy by circumventing the normal channels and excluding from the
decision-making process many of those who were theoretically charged with carrying it
out.”132 By ignoring most of his staff and emphasizing secrecy, Kissinger was able to
simultaneously present one policy line in public and covertly pursue his own foreign policy
objectives. In support for this claim, O’Malley and Craig cite the unexplained removal of
several key State Department staff members: Greek Ambassador Tasca, chief of the Cyprus
desk Tom Boyatt, chief of the Greek desk George Churchill, and the unnamed chief of the
Turkish Desk.133 In fact, they argue that the State Department consistently operated over the
head of Greek Ambassador Tasca and only conducted discussions through the CIA in
Athens. As additional support, the authors cite Kissinger’s policy decisions regarding the
coup in Chile in 1970 and weapons supplies in Pakistan in 1971. Here, Kissinger was
involved in covert activity and used intelligence groups rather than traditional State
134 O’Malley, 162-3.
135 Hitchens, 84; Stern, 105; Hitchens, Cyprus, 78.
136 O’Malley, 165; Hitchens, 81.
137 Hitchens, 81; Stern, 98; Hitchens, Cyprus, 81.
138 Hitchens, 81; Hitchens, Cyprus, 79.
139 Stern, 95.
140 O’Malley, 165; Hitchens, 83.
Department channels. The conspiracy theorists argue that this indicates Kissinger was likely
to employ such tactics elsewhere.134
Next, the conspiracy authors describe a string of warnings that to which the State
Department should have reacted in order to prevent Ioannides from initiating the coup.
These warnings counter Kissinger’s later claim that “the information was not laying around
in the streets.”135 U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus Taylor Belcher reported that junior State
Department officials had been trying to convince Kissinger to warn Ioannides against such
plans for weeks.136 In May, Kissinger reportedly received a memorandum from Chief of the
Cyprus Desk Thomas Boyatt that “summarized all the cumulative and persuasive reasons for
believing that a Greek junta attack on Cyprus and Makarios was imminent,” and that “such a
coup…would beyond doubt trigger a Turkish invasion.”137 On June 7, the National
Intelligence Daily—a widely read periodical among State Department officials—outlined a
warning of a coup based on claims made by Ioannides.138 On June 20, the New York Times
reported a conversation between Ioannides and a CIA station chief in which the Greek
dictator stated he was contemplating military action against Makarios.139 By June 27, the
“State Department” reportedly received their “first explicit warning of a coup,” but Tasca
was not immediately informed and the State Department did not act.140 The authors who
made this claim did not specify who in the State Department received this warning or why it
was different from those they previously cited.
O’Malley and Craig also describe a confusing series of events on June 29. Two days
after the State Department’s receipt of the initial coup report, the authors claim chief of the
O’Malley, 165-1 141 66; Stern, 98; Hitchens, Ctprus, 79-80.
142 Stern, 100.
143 Stern, 102.
144 O’Malley, 166; Stern, 102.
Cyprus desk Thomas Boyatt ordered Tasca to warn Ioannides against the action, but ruled
out the use of explicit pressures in the memo. Tasca then questioned the order because the
situation, as he saw it, lacked the urgency that would require a diplomatic move. O’Malley
and Craig state this was a result of Kissinger conducting communication exclusively through
the CIA and ignoring Tasca. Boyatt apparently repeated the order, but Tasca had
inexplicably left Athens for a family engagement in Switzerland. Boyatt reported the
situation to Joseph Sisco, who contacted Tasca’s deputy Elizabeth Brown. Brown allegedly
repeated the statement that the situation lacked urgency and, as a result, Ioannides was not
warned against a coup.141 According to Lawrence Stern, Tasca was repeatedly cabled to
warn Ioannides and ultimately failed to meet with him. Instead, he made representations at
lower levels of the Greek government that proved ineffective. Thus the regime “considered
the warnings from Tasca as window dressing and not serious American objections to a
The conspiracy theorists cite further warnings, primarily CIA reports, from July. On
July 3, CIA analysts reported that Ioannides had personally assured an unnamed source that
there would be no action, but prefaced the statement with warnings that events had moved
towards a showdown.143 Again, on July 11, the analysts reported Ioannides claims that there
would be no action, but argued that an attempted coup could not be ruled out. O’Malley and
Craig cite a CIA post-mortem, which reviewed the events leading up to the coup and
concluded that the State Department relied on these analysts when formulating policy.144 By
this time, Makarios had sent his letter to the Greek government and rejected Ioannides
counter demands. Both the letter and the rejection of Ioannides’ demands should also have
warned Kissinger of an unavoidable confrontation between the Greek junta and Makarios,
O’Malley, 1 145 67; Stern, 104; Hitchens, Cyprus, 80-81.
146 O’Malley, 167.
147 O’Malley, 177.
148 O’Malley 172; Stern, 112.
149 O’Malley, 173; Hitchens, 85-86; Stern, 112; Hitchens, Cyprus, 88.
150 O’Malley, 176.
according to the conspiracy theorists.145 Finally, on July 12 Makarios allegedly told the U.S.
Ambassador about Ioannides’ plots against him, which CIA analysts reportedly confirmed.146
In sum, the conspiracy theorists use this series of warnings to illustrate the State
Department’s knowledge of the coming events and failure to act before the coup occurred.
This evidence is intended to support the argument that U.S. involvement should be
considered a sin of commission and merits blame for the subsequent crisis.
Lastly, the conspiracy argues that Kissinger’s neutral and delayed response provides
additional evidence that he supported Greek interference on Cyprus.147 Kissinger’s initial
public statement contained no rebukes, pressures, or changes in military alert status. He
simply stated, “The United States has long been on record as opposed to any resort to
violence on the island. Our policy remains that of supporting the independence and the
territorial integrity of Cyprus and its constitutional arrangements, and we urge all other states
to support a similar policy.”148 The U.S. was equally non-committal at the U.N. and in
regards to the recognition of the new government under Nicos Sampson. O’Malley and
Craig cite a State Department spokesman who insisted that, “the question of recognition as of
the moment does not arise.”149 They claim that a lack of discouragement on Kissinger’s part
amounted to encouragement of invasion in order primarily to protect the U.S. interests in
The Actual U.S. Role in the Coup
In this section I will counter the conspiracy theorists’ arguments regarding the Greekorchestrated
coup. Their argument focuses on Kissinger’s role in their explanation American
policy and emphasizes his non-committal and delayed response to both the warnings and the
subsequent crisis. His actions are allegedly explained by his “two-track” diplomatic policy
and desire to save Cyprus as an “unsinkable aircraft carrier.” The three most serious
problems with these claims, however, are that they ignore the fact that Cyprus was not a U.S.
priority at the time, misinterpret Kissinger’s responses to the coup, and fail to describe the
key positions of the State Department early in the crisis. The conspiracy’s errors will be
demonstrated through an examination of newly released documents including Kissinger’s
memoranda of conversation, State Department Telegrams, and other documents available
through the Freedom of Information Act. The conspiracies generally rely on the same few
memoranda and, in the case of O’Malley and Craig, one report from the Senate Investigative
Committee. A more complete picture of the U.S. and its activity during the 1974 crisis
emerges through these new documents.
The conspiracy theorists heavily emphasize the warnings that the State Department
should have immediately acted upon as early as May of 1974. The first problem with this
point is that foreign policymakers, Kissinger in particular, did not see Cyprus as a priority.
While individuals such as Thomas Boyatt of the Department of Near Eastern Affairs felt that
the situation was urgent, more influential officials did not share his opinions as other matters
required their constant attention. Examples of these issues include, but are not limited to,
Watergate, the Middle East after the Yom Kippur War, the oil crisis, détente with the
U.S.S.R., and the communist government in Chile. Kissinger himself raises a second
problem in his discussion of the Cyprus crisis on August 5th with members of the State
Department. He states, “I don’t question that there were such intelligence reports [warning
of the coup].” However, he goes on, “an intelligence report that isn’t called to my attention,
has no standing, and it is the function of intelligence people, when they have something that
they think is of importance, to bring it to the attention of the top policymaker, the President,
“Cyprus Critique,” memorandum of conversation, August 5, 1974, Kissinger 151 Transcripts, Digital National
Security Archive, http://gateway.proquest.com/openurl?url_ver=Z39.88-
2004&res_dat=xri:dnsa&rft_dat=xri:dnsa:article:CKT01274 [accessed 16 September 2007].
152 State to Greece and Cyprus, teleg., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 594, Country Files, Middle
East, Greece, NARA, MD.
the Secretary of State, or whoever else.” He concludes, “If the information doesn’t reach me,
or the President, it isn’t useful and it isn’t just enough to put it in the daily paper—it must be
flagged as being of some significance.”151 While this speaks volumes about who had the
most influence on decisions while Kissinger was Secretary of State, it also makes clear that
the right people did not recognize or learn about the significance of the growing turmoil in
Finally, in regards to the warnings, the U.S. did in fact warn Ioannides against any
coup attempts in a telegram from Joseph Sisco to Tasca on June 29. While the telegram does
not resolve the confusing string of events that O’Malley and Craig outline, it does make clear
what the U.S. position was in regards to an overthrow of Makarios regardless of whether or
not Tasca conveyed the message. Sisco stated that “it is evident that Ioannides is seriously
considering [a] way to topple Makarios from power,” and, “In our view [an] effort to remove
Makarios by force contains unacceptable risks of generating chaos [and] eventually causing
[a] Greco-Turk confrontation.” He concludes by specifically instructing Tasca to state that
because of these risks “we would be strongly opposed to any move of this nature.”152 Thus,
once notified of the potential for a Greek-orchestrated coup, the State Department notified
those involved, gave orders they thought the situation required, and did little more because of
their foreign policy emphasis on other areas.
Secondly, the conspiracy theorists misinterpret Kissinger’s responses after the coup
as neutral, purposefully non-committal, and acquiescent to the island’s new situation. This
behavior is allegedly indicative of Kissinger’s support for the 1964 Ball and Acheson plan
discussed above. The first problem with their interpretation is that the U.S. plans after 1967
Sisco to Davies, “NSSM – Cyprus Planning,” 153 memorandum, July 2, 1971, Record Group 59, Records
Relating to Cyprus, 1963-1972, Box 13, NARA, MD.
154 Sisco to Kissinger, “Cyprus: Contingency Plans for Violent Incidents,” memorandum, August 13, 1971, ibid.
emphasized the use of diplomacy and U.S. political influence with the leadership of Cyprus,
Greece, and Turkey to handle any subsequent crisis. This contrasts sharply with the
argument that the American plan during this period involved military intervention by Greece
and or Turkey.
The emphasis on diplomacy is most clear in the contingency plans drawn up between
the 1967 and 1974 crises. Three of these plans are most significant and relevant to the 1974
crisis because of when they were developed and their detailed nature. The first was
completed in July of 1971 by the Department of Near Eastern Affairs and lists, among other
things, seven possible events on Cyprus that range from a breakdown in the intercommunal
talks, to a Greek orchestrated removal of Makarios, to a risk of Turkish intervention.153 The
use of U.S. military forces were not considered as an option for any of these contingencies
and diplomatic pressure in the form of aid cutoffs were the most extreme of these potential
reactions. Sisco reiterated these recommendations to Kissinger in a second contingency
study memorandum from August 1971 where he stated, “U.S. responses vary… However, all
responses generally involve direct U.S. diplomatic activity (usually in conjunction with the
UK) in Athens, Ankara, Nicosia…and support of UN efforts.” In addition, he later states,
“Finally, our ace in the hole in a crisis on the scale outlined above remains the Special
Presidential Mission…This option should be preserved as a last ditch effort to avoid or
resolve a Greco-Turk confrontation.”154 Thus the last ditch effort was more diplomacy,
rather than allowing the Greeks and/or the Turks to invade in order to resolve a confrontation
between the two over Cyprus.
The third contingency study, also completed by the Department of Near Eastern
Affairs, is noteworthy since it was completed on May 6, 1974. This would therefore have
“Contingency Study for Cyprus,” memorandum 155 prepared by Interdepartmental Group for Near East and
South Asia, S/S – 1 Files: Lot 83 D 411, Box 3418, NSC Contingency Plans: Cyprus, NARA, MD.
been the final contingency study for the State Department to examine when the crisis began
in July. The report, drafted by Thomas Boyatt and Richard Erdman, summarizes in its
introduction that “the only asset effectively available to policy makers is the degree of
diplomatic/political influence that the U.S.G [government] can bring to bear on the
situation.” In addition, it states that “the important decisions relate almost exclusively to
diplomatic strategy and tactics and focus on the questions of whether, when, with whom, and
how to use our diplomatic influence in an evolving contingency scenario.” The
contingencies the paper examines include “a mainland Greek putsch against Makarios” and,
“a joint Greco-Turk attempt to occupy and partition Cyprus.” The recommended response to
both of these events was, “low-key joint diplomatic representations to Greece and Turkey to
prevent them from undertaking potentially disastrous para-military or military adventures in
Cyprus.” 155 This policy was the most logical conclusion after the U.S. experiences on
Cyprus in 1964 and 1967 where diplomacy successfully diffused both crises. In addition, it
is consistent with the way Kissinger and the State Department reacted to the 1974 crisis and
also explains why the U.S. would be unwilling to utilize its own military forces in order to
enforce the peace or prevent an invasion of Cyprus.
Third and finally, the conspiracy theorists fail to clearly explain the positions and
objectives of the U.S. government after the coup occurred. The four most significant of
these priorities are emphasized throughout the State Department documents and include:
prevention of the internationalization of the conflict, a firm understanding of on-island
developments before decisions are made, no support for Sampson, and encouragement of the
restoration of the constitution and the opening of negotiations.
Evidence of these priorities can be found in the minutes and memoranda of
conversation from the first few days of meetings as well as telegrams between the State
“Minutes of Meeting of the Washington Special A 156 ctions Group (WSAG),” Nixon Presidential Materials,
NSC Institutional Files, Meetings Files, WSAG Meetings, NARA, MD.
157 “Minutes of Meeting of the WSAG,” July 16, 1974, ibid.
158 “Minutes of Meeting of the WSAG,” ibid.
Department and its embassies. The State Department’s primary objective from July 15
onward was to prevent the internationalization of the Cyprus conflict in order to avoid a
Greek-Turkish war and check any potential increase in Soviet involvement. On July 15 at 10
am, during the first meeting of the Washington Special Actions Group (SAG) concerning
Cyprus, Sisco opened discussions by outlining what he saw as America’s two primary
objectives: first, “do what we can to avert war between Greece and Turkey,” and second,
“do what we can to avert Soviet exploitation of the situation.” Kissinger concurred and stated
that “our immediate objective is to keep this thing from becoming internationalized, the
Greek-Turk problem, the Soviet angle.”156 The next day, in a second SAG meeting,
Kissinger reiterated that “[o]ur first objective is to prevent the situation from becoming
internationalized,” with the assent of the other policymakers in attendance, which included
sixteen people from the State Department, the Department of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, the CIA, and the National Security Council staff.157 He again made the same point in a
SAG meeting on July 18, despite the fact that the issue had already reached the UN.158 The
early evidence therefore suggests that Kissinger, the State Department, and other groups
within the U.S. Government consistently believed that their primary objective should be to
prevent external involvement. These officials also believed, up until July 19, that prevention
of internationalization was in fact still possible.
These meetings also demonstrate Kissinger and other officials’ demands for a firm
understanding of the developments on the island before major decisions could be made and
U.S. positions on the issues became public. Immediate confusion concerned the whereabouts
and condition of Makarios, the potential for an internal war against Cypriot Communists, the
possibility of enosis, and the possible Turkish reactions to the coup. In the initial meetings
Minutes of the July 15, 1974, WSAG Meeting; 159 Minutes of the July 16, 1974 WSAG meeting.
160 Minutes of the July 18, 1974, WSAG Meeting; State to Nicosia, London, Athens, Ankara, Kissinger, teleg.,
July 18, 1974, Record Group 59: Records of Joseph Sisco, Box 26, Cyprus Crisis, NARA, MC.
161 “Cyprus Crisis,” memorandum of conversation, July 18, 1974, Kissinger Transcripts, Digital National
Security Archive, http://gateway.proquest.com/openurl?url_ver=Z39.88-
2004&res_dat=xri:dnsa&rft_dat=xri:dnsa:article:CKT01252 [accessed 16 September 2007].
on July 15 and 16, Kissinger stated “[t]here really is nothing we can do at this time
internally,” and the situation was described as “murky.” Sisco bluntly claimed, “We just
don’t know what’s going on.” In response, Kissinger argued that, “we have to have a firm
understanding of the situation before we jump,” and Sisco advocated “cautious,” “lowprofile”
action.159 Rather than establish immediate public positions in support of Greece or
Turkey, the U.S. elected to issue a statement supporting the Cypriot constitution as well as its
independence. Questions remained, however, as late as July 18 regarding the permanence of
Nicos Sampson as the new Greek Cypriot leader, the possibility of Makarios’ return, whether
or not he would need to lean on the Left for support, the future of the Greek government, and
Turkey’s possible actions. As a result, Kissinger continued to state that the U.S. should
“avoid taking a stand” and “avoid assuming a public posture which commits us to any
particular course of action.”160 Rather, he wanted “the situation to crystallize…in order to
enable concerted action later.”161 The State Department was clear regarding the need for a
coherent situation in order to develop a similarly coherent policy.
This State Department demand for clarity, however, is one of the more heavily
criticized U.S. policies by both the conspiracy theorists and other historians and politicians.
Critics claim that the U.S. should have acted more rapidly to establish their position against
the Greek actions and in favor of Cypriot independence in order to prevent the subsequent
Turkish military action. Kissinger and the State Department feared that a strong stance
against Greece would encourage a Turkish intervention because the threat to Cypriot
sovereignty would appear more serious.162 In addition, they simply did not have the detailed
163 Minutes of the July 16, 1974, WSAG Meeting
164 “Minutes of Meeting of WSAG,” Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files, Meeting Files,
WSAG Meetings, NARA, MD.
165 Kissinger to Callaghan, telephone conversation, July 17, 1974, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers,
Telephone Conversations, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
166 Minutes of the July 18, 1974, WSAG Meeting.
knowledge of the inner workings of the island necessary to confidently make the major
decisions the critics demand. This is certainly not an excuse for the Department, since it
employs individuals who are responsible for obtaining this sort of detailed knowledge, and
the U.S. may indeed merit criticism for its policy. However, the U.S. reaction in no way
indicates that a conspiracy was at work. Rather, it indicates that Kissinger and the
Department had been caught unprepared for how to handle just such a crisis and therefore
adopted a “wait and see” strategy in the hopes that the path most beneficial to the U.S. would
Next, the conspiracy theorists question the U.S. policy regarding recognition of Nicos
Sampson as the new Cypriot leader. The documents provide ample evidence that the U.S.
never intended to recognize Sampson during the crisis, regardless of what was portrayed to
the public. Kissinger stated in the July 16 SAG meeting that “[w]e don’t want to recognize
Sampson,” and believed he was “just a figurehead anyway.”163 On July 17, Kissinger made
clear that Sampson was “a most unattractive guy” and “it’s not in our interest to have him.”
Thomas Boyatt agreed that “Sampson certainly is not acceptable.”164 Kissinger later told
Callaghan to convey to the Turks that the U.S. “was not supporting Sampson.”165 These
statements were confirmed in a telegram to the U.S. ambassadors on July 18 that stated, “The
U.S. also cannot accept the Sampson regime,” but continued on to argue that it should not be
removed until a substitute could be found.166 By July 19 Joseph Sisco had begun his shuttle
diplomacy and Kissinger instructed him to inform the parties that “we now believe the
Clerides solution is the only one,” which indicates that the U.S. had begun supporting
Clerides as Cypriot President. This would be their position for the remainder of the crisis.
168 Minutes of the July 15, 1974, WSAG Meeting.
169 “Minutes of Meeting of the WSAG,” July 18, 1974, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files,
Meeting Files, WSAG Meetings, NARA, MD.
170 Minutes of the July 18, 1974, WSAG Meeting
171 “Minutes of Meeting of the WSAG,” July 19, 1974, Nixon Presidential Materials, NARA, MD.
At this point it seemed possible either that Sampson would establish himself as
leader, especially since Makarios had fled the island, or that a civil war would develop
between right-wing and Communist forces. Again, due to the fact that the situation was “too
complicated” and the need to “see what develops on the island” in order to determine “who
to support,” the U.S. decided to avoid the recognition issue and claim it simply hadn’t arisen
yet.167 The U.S. may merit criticism again for its failure to take a public stance against an
unsavory leader installed by outside forces. However, the State Department was certainly
not in favor of a continuation of his leadership and the U.S. reaction again in no way
indicates that it was utilizing Sampson to encourage a Turkish invasion.
Finally, the U.S. also made clear that it supported the restoration of constitutional rule
and the beginning of negotiations to reduce tension in the Eastern Mediterranean. The first
affirmation of this policy was on July 15 in the SAG meeting where Kissinger stated that “we
want to advise [the Turks] on preserving the present structure on the island,” and Sisco
agreed.168 He reaffirmed this position on July 18 when he argued that “an ideal solution
would be to get negotiations started, within the Zurich framework, towards a solution on
which all sides agree.”169 This policy was then communicated to the U.S. ambassadors later
that same day in a telegram that instructed them to encourage “conditions for the
development of a compromise and negotiated settlement which would permit the
maintenance of constitutional arrangements on Cyprus.”170 The next day, as rumors of
Turkish troop movements began, Ambassador McCloskey confirmed that “a military
solution is completely out of the question and we are working for a solution through
diplomatic processes.”171 The evidence does not confirm the belief that the U.S. was intent
on a change in the Cypriot government that better accommodated U.S. interests. Rather, it
shows that the U.S. felt a return to the pre-crisis government system and the continuation of
negotiations would create the best conditions for the establishment of peace. Therefore the
documents portray the early role of the U.S. as pragmatic and distant rather than as a
consistent supporter of invasion.
172 O’Malley, 179.
173 O’Malley, 181.
174 O’Malley, 179.
Who is to Blame for the First Turkish Invasion?
The Conspiracy Theorists’ Interpretation
The conspiracy theorists also argue that the U.S. must have been involved in or
endorsed the Turkish invasion. They support this by stating that, again, the U.S. had plenty
of warning, Kissinger did not effectively arm Sisco to conduct credible negotiations, and the
U.S. explicitly refused to provide military support to the British as Foreign Minister James
Callaghan requested. This evidence will be discussed further in this section and countered in
a later section on the realities of the U.S.’s policy.
The conspiracy theorists again claim that the U.S. had sufficient warning to move
against the Turks and prevent the invasion. First, the U.S. and British electronic facilities on
the island and throughout the region should have detected the movement of thousands of
Turkish troops during the days prior to July 20. The primary function of most of these spy
stations was to “eavesdrop on military communications and spot the movement of aircraft,”
and thus the Americans and British allegedly must have had information about the armada
landing craft.172 In addition, O’Malley and Craig cite general warnings from the CIA, U.S.
diplomats in Nicosia and Ankara, as well as media reports that the State Department did not
act on. This was reportedly the only time when State Department initiatives were
inconsistent with intelligence reports.173 In contrast, National Security Council and State
Department officials, including Ambassador Tasca, claimed they had not received the
information.174 O’Malley and Craig state this is further evidence that Kissinger kept
important information from the majority of his staff.
O’Malley, 1 175 81; Stern, 116; Hitchens, Cyprus, 97.
176 Hitchens, 87.
177 O’Malley, 184.
178 O’Malley, 186.
Secondly, the conspiracy theorists again claim that the U.S. was involved because
Joseph Sisco was sent to negotiate between Greece and Turkey armed with nothing capable
of convincing Turkey that it was in their best interest to avoid military interference in
Cyprus. Sisco also allegedly made no suggestions of punitive actions against the Turks and
had little or nothing to negotiate with. O’Malley and Craig cite George Ball who stated, “He
[Sisco] wasn’t armed with enough in the way of American leverage to be able to accomplish
anything with the Ankara government and they went ahead.”175 This was apparently because
Kissinger chose not to provide Sisco with more weapons to deter the Turks.
Lastly, the conspiracy theorists claim that James Callaghan requested joint U.S.-
British action to deter invasion, but the U.S. refused to provide the necessary military
support. The authors support this claim with evidence that the British were unable to mount
an operation on their own due to a lack of firepower in the area and the statements of
Callaghan’s military adviser, Tom McNally.176 McNally reportedly stated in an interview
that it was made “quite clear that Henry Kissinger was not going to get the Americans
involved and didn’t think it was a good idea for Britain to get involved either.”177 Thus any
military or negotiated attempt to deter the Turkish invasion was hamstrung by Kissinger’s
actions, which indicates that he supported and encouraged the move. In summary, O’Malley
and Craig argue that:
Kissinger’s action ensured the Turks knew their only hope of keeping the Greeks off
Cyprus was to intervene militarily themselves, as was their right under the Treaty of
Guarantee. Despite the culminating crisis over Watergate in Washington, Kissinger
chose to act against the advice of experts in his own department, and in a way that ran
the greatest risk of provoking a legally justifiable Turkish military intervention in
Cyprus. The most logical explanation of why Kissinger pulled his punches with the
Turks is that he believed the threat of Greece going to war over such a move could be
Kissinger to Schlesinger, telephone conversation, July 19, 179 1974, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers,
Telephone Conversations, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
The Reality of U.S. Policy Regarding the First Turkish Invasion
The conspiracy theorists’ describe a U.S. policy of secrecy and intrigue incompatible
with the actual development of State Department actions and goals. There are four major
reasons why this is the case: the U.S. handled the warnings of invasion in a manner
consistent with its policy up until that time, Joseph Sisco’s mission was nearly impossible
from the beginning, the U.S. never intended to provide military support to an intervention
mission, and the facilities on the island were no longer a U.S. priority.
The first indicator that the U.S. was not involved in a conspiracy concerns the
warnings of the coming invasion. The primary State Department reaction to the rumors of
Turkish troop movements was based on Sisco’s shuttle diplomacy. On July 19, Kissinger
acted in a manner consistent with prior U.S. policy when he instructed Sisco, via
Ambassador McCloskey, to “tell them [the Turks] that we object strongly to their actions,
that it has strong consequences for everybody, [and] we now believe that the Clerides
solution is the only one,” by which he meant Clerides’ establishment as the President of
Cyprus.179 In the meantime, he contacted a number of advisers including the Secretary of
Defense James Schlesinger and Director of Central Intelligence William Colby for advice on
how to handle the situation. Kissinger informed Schlesinger that “we think the best solution
now is to have a negotiation as rapidly as possible looking for the return to constitutional
government,” and qualified his statement by saying “we don’t think this will really fly but at
least it’s a slender thread.” Schlesinger felt “the Turks at this stage aren’t going to settle for
anything less than a piece of the island,” but Kissinger responded that “they are willing to
stabilize their forces and willing to accept the existing structure.”180 While this plan of action
and confidence in Ecevit’s ability to control his military may have been misguided, it is also
Kissinger to Colby, telephone conversation, July 19, 1974, Kissinger 181 Papers, Library of Congress, DC.
182 “Minutes of Meeting of the WSAG,” July 20, 1974, Nixon Presidential Materials, NARA, MD.
183 “Contingency Study for Cyprus,” memorandum prepared by Interdepartmental Group for Near East and
South Asia, S/S – 1 Files: Lot 83 D 411, Box 3418, NSC Contingency Plans: Cyprus, NARA, MD.
184 Greece to State, teleg., July 19, 1974, Record Group 59, Records of Joseph Sisco, 1951-1976, Box 26,
Cyprus Crisis, NARA, MD.
inconsistent with encouragement of an invasion. Colby’s recommendation was “to get the
Greeks not to fight. To say all right, let’s negotiate and discuss what ought to be done,” and
Kissinger appeared to agree.181
Critics may claim this was another example of Kissinger’s “two-track” diplomacy,
but his instructions to the foreign ministers in Paris, London and Bonn early in the morning
of July 20 indicates otherwise. McCloskey reported that the U.S. position was to support a
ceasefire, begin negotiations between the guarantor powers in London, and reestablish
constitutional rule in Cyprus. In addition, he confirmed that Kissinger had instructed Sisco
“to be brutal towards the Turks in the sense that he can say that we will withhold all military
aid in the event there is an all-out war.”182 Thus the evidence indicates that the U.S. did react
to the warnings of the impending invasion and their reactions were completely consistent
with the prior policies: support the independence of Cyprus and a constitutional government
through negotiations and diplomacy.
Secondly, to add to the consistency, Joseph Sisco’s mission to the governments in
Athens, Ankara, and Nicosia fit in smoothly with both the contingency plans
recommendation of a “low-key diplomatic initiative” in the event of a crisis.183 It began on
July 18, but by the following day Sisco had already reported back to the State Department, “I
have the distinct impression that no matter what is done in this situation, the Turks see it as
an ideal time to achieve by military intervention a longstanding objective, namely double
enosis.”184 Therefore he recognized the limited effectiveness of his own actions during this
time to create stability on Cyprus. As he wrote the telegram on July 19, the Turks were in
fact already amassing troops in preparation for an invasion. Kissinger later stated in August
“Cyprus Critique,” memorandum of conversation, August 5, 1974, Digital 185 National Security Archive. For
full citation see footnote 160.
that Sisco’s mission was, “First, to clarify the real intentions of all of the parties…And
secondly to convey to the parties…our analysis of the situation and an explanation of our
motivation,” rather than an explicit attempt to reach a solution.185
In fact, Sisco worked to establish an agreement and a cease-fire, but shuttle
diplomacy was not as effective in 1974 the way it had during the previous two crises. This
was primarily because Turkey had already reached the conclusion that military intervention
would be the most effective means to achieve their country’s goals. This was due in part to
the frustration that resulted from the outcome of the previous two crises as well as internal
pressures on the Turkish government from the public and the military. In addition, the
situation in 1974 was distinct from the previous crises because both Cyprus and Greece
lacked a legitimate government with international support. Turkey was able to attack an
internationally recognized “professional thug” in Cyprus and a despised dictatorship in
Greece to “protect the Turkish Cypriots” from a serious threat.186 The lack of government
also made Sisco’s negotiations in Athens and Nicosia next to impossible. Therefore, despite
Kissinger’s instructions to “be brutal towards the Turks in the sense that he [Sisco] can say
that we will withhold all military aid in the event there is an all-out war,” there was little that
Sisco could do to prevent the escalation of the conflict.
Thirdly, the conspiracy’s claims regarding U.S. refusal to involve themselves
militarily in support of the British also fail to prove that the U.S. was involved in the Turkish
invasion. As discussed above, the U.S. had a long established plan to use only diplomatic
means to handle any crisis on Cyprus. The involvement of U.S. military forces, even in
support of a British preventative movement, was never considered or discussed as a
possibility up until the 1974 crisis. Thus Kissinger’s refusal to permit the use of U.S. troops
Davies to Schiff (NEA), “Cyprus – NSSM 187 90,” memorandum, March 6, 1970, Record Group 59, Box 11,
was consistent with State Department policy and does not indicate his encouragement of a
Turkish invasion, but rather his confidence in the ability of diplomacy to re-establish peace.
A significant part of the conspiracy theorists’ argument concerns the U.S. facilities
and British Sovereign Base Areas (SBA’s) on Cyprus. These facilities were allegedly so
important that the Turkish invasion was permitted in order to maintain their existence and
ability to fulfill their intelligence-gathering functions. On the contrary, however, State
Department and CIA documents from the early 1970s clearly state that their value was not
enough to risk a Greek-Turkish war, indicate that both the facilities and the bases were of
limited significance, and assure the State Department that the Cyprus Government will
continue to permit their operations.
In the early 1970s, America’s primary objective in the Eastern Mediterranean was to
prevent war between Greece and Turkey and not to maintain access to the British SBA’s and
the communications facilities specifically located on Cyprus. This is clear in the documents
from the crisis itself, where the State Department’s five major priorities include the
prevention of the conflict’s internationalization and not the protection of the bases, as
described above. This point was also made clear prior to the crisis in March 1970 in a
memorandum from Thomas Davis of the Near Eastern Affairs Cyprus Desk. The
memorandum detailed the Cyprus Desk’s view on the different “analytical axes for
approaching Cyprus’ impact on U.S. policy in the Mediterranean area,” and stated that “[w]e
hope that this millennium would not bring the issue of the British bases and our
communications facilities to the fore but this risk is distinctly preferable to [the] danger of
[a] Greco-Turkish conflict over an unsettled Cyprus situation.”187 The consistency in the
State Department’s evaluation of the Cyprus facilities’ importance between 1970 and 1974
Davis to Stoddard (INR), “British Sovereign Base 188 Areas,” memorandum, June 4, 1970, ibid.
indicates that the Department’s policy did in fact prioritize peace between Greece and
Turkey over salvaging the communications operations in Cyprus.
One reason why the State Department developed this policy may have been because
of the limited significance these facilities and bases had for the U.S.. The British bases were
less significant because of their declining importance for the British government as well.
Several documents from the Near Eastern Affairs desks support this assertion in 1970 and
1971. In June of 1970, Thomas Davis sent another detailed memorandum to the Bureau of
Intelligence and Research’s (INR) Philip Stoddard regarding the British SBA’s at Akrotiri
and Dhekelia. According to Davis’ report, the British had 3,749 Army personnel and 5,369
RAF personnel stationed in the SBA’s as of April 1970 and, “[f]or the time being, the UK is
expected to maintain these force levels.”188 In addition, Davis states that “[b]efore political
considerations…the bases…played important operational roles in the management of
Britain’s overseas activities.” As of 1970, however, “the role of Cyprus in the UK’s global
strategy seems headed for decline” since the UK depends more on its “West About” route
overflying the U.S. in order to supply its bases in East Asia rather than the Middle Eastern
route through Cyprus.
The SBA’s decline in importance was also because the U.S. appeared unwilling to
use them for strategic purposes. This same memorandum from Davis makes clear that
Cyprus lacked strategic value for any mission against the U.S.SR. He states that “[t]he U.S.
Sixth Fleet has its own offensive-defensive capability against the Soviet Squadron in which
the UK forces on Cyprus play no role.” In addition, NATO has no interest in the Cyprus
bases because “anything that NATO (i.e., the U.S.) might contemplate doing from Cyprus
against the U.S.SR and Eastern Europe could be accomplished more readily from Incirlik,
Cigli, [Turkey] and Athens where U.S. forces are already in being.” The memorandum states
Davis to Sisco, “Akrotiri as Base for U-2 Flights,” 189 memorandum, January 22, 1971, ibid.
190 Popper (NEA) to Coerr (INR), “Future of Department’s Radio Relay Office,” memorandum, September 30,
that, while the U.S. receives intelligence information collected by the British, “the U.S.
duplicates most of these with its own missions out of Athens” and the information the UK
provides primarily concerns Cyprus and the UAR. Finally, the U.S. has decided at least once
not to use Cyprus as a base for a special mission—in early 1969, according to Davis—and
the Near Eastern Affairs desk also provided several compelling reasons why the U.S. should
continue this policy in January of 1971. Their primary objections include the difficulty in
obtaining Makarios and UK’s approval, the unlikelihood that the U.S. would be able to use
the facilities again, and the backlash from the Cypriot people through propaganda.189 While
it is unclear whether the State Department agreed with this assessment or not, these reasons
are undeniably compelling.
The communications facilities had decreased in importance for the U.S. as well due
to the previously described reductions after the 1967 crisis. In addition, as a memo from the
INR to Cyprus Ambassador David Popper indicates, the State Department had established
plans to “phase out RRO [another of the State Deaprtment’s Radio Relay Office] in Cyprus,
perhaps as early as Fiscal Year 1973,” by September 1971.190 These documents indicate that
Cyprus’ strategic value had depreciated significantly by the beginning of the 1970s. The
picture they provide of Cyprus is quite different from the “unsinkable battleship” O’Malley
and Craig describe.
Regardless of the facilities’ significance for the U.S., both the Cypriot and British
governments made clear that the facilities were not at risk before the crisis occurred. The
British repeatedly asserted that Makarios had not questioned the bases’ existence since the
crisis in 1963, most likely because of the significant economic support they provided to
Cyprus. In addition, in 1968, UK Defense Minister Healey stated that the British “could not
“British Sovereign 191 Base Areas,” June 4, 1970, ibid.
192 Cyprus to State Department, teleg., November 9, 1973, Record Group 59: Central Foreign Policy Files,
Electronic Telegrams, 1/1/1974 – 12/31/1974, National Archives Archival Databases,
http://aad.archives.gov/aad/createpdf?rid=98140&dt=1573&dl=823 [accessed 10 November 2007].
193 Cyprus to State Department, teleg., November 30, 1973, Record Group 59: Central Foreign Policy Files,
Electronic Telegrams, 1/1/1974 – 12/31/1974, National Archives Archival Databases,
http://aad.archives.gov/aad/createpdf?rid=104445&dt=1573&dl=823 [accessed 10 November 2007].
make use of Malta for all the purposes for which we now need facilities in Cyprus.”191 These
claims combined with the SBA’s previously mentioned intelligence functions offer support
for the assertion that these bases were not going to be completely phased out at any point.
The communications facilities also appeared secure according to the Cyprus
government’s statements. In November of 1973, Representative Vassos Lyssarides made a
statement in the Cypriot Parliament against the U.S. communications facilities, referred to
them as “a blow against Cyprus,” and asked whether the government planned to “wind them
up.” The Foreign Minister responded with a brief statement confirming that the “Ministry of
Foreign Affairs is satisfied that the interests of friendly and neighboring countries are not
affected by the presence of American monitoring stations in Cyprus.” The U.S. responded
by notifying the Foreign Ministry that, as of November 2, the U.S. expected “we would be
substantially reducing American communications operations [at Mia Milia and Yerolakkos]
here,” which further confirms the declining importance of these facilities.192 Cypriot support
of the Foreign Minister was confirmed on November 29 when the House of Representatives
defeated Lyssarides’ motion to close the communications facilities.193 Thus the official
policy of the Cyprus government did not question the continued operation of these
facilities—although they may not even exist in the future. These documents thus do not
describe the U.S. facilities as the lynchpins in the Cold War intelligence system upon which
the conspiracy theorists base their argument. Further problems with the conspiracy theories
are visible as the narrative of the 1974 crisis continues following the first Turkish invasion
on July 20.
194 O’Malley, 191.
195 M.A. Birand, 30 Hot Days (Nicosia: K. Rustem and Bro. Publishers, 1985), 45.
July-August 1974: The Aftermath of the First Turkish Invasion
The conspiracy theorists admit that the U.S. took the lead in the diplomatic endeavors
to prevent war that included Sisco’s continued negotiations and telephone calls from
Kissinger.194 However, they argue against Kissinger’s assertions that the ceasefire he
arranged on July 21 and 22 prevented the Turkish military from occupying more than a small
portion of the island. O’Malley and Craig state that Kissinger encouraged the Turks to see
the ceasefire as a time to reinforce their position on the island before beginning the second
half of the two-stage invasion plan. They quote Turkish writer Mehmet Ali Birand, who
reportedly heard Kissinger tell Ecevit, “It was essential for you to seize a bridgehead and this
you have done. Now, you will have to await reinforcements before you can advance
further,” and, “Your bridgehead is strengthened, your reinforcements are about to land on the
island, and can continue to do so after the ceasefire. In short you have time to take all the
measures necessary for your security.”195
By this point, the Turkish forces had complete control over Kyrenia and an
approximately 20-mile-wide corridor between there and the Turkish-Cypriot quarter of
Nicosia. On July 23, Nicos Sampson resigned as President and Glafkos Clerides took his
place based on the law of the Constitution. Confrontational skirmishes continued within
Nicosia along the UN established “Green Line” dividing the two communities. Regardless
of the continuing conflict, talks between the Greeks, Turks, and British were arranged in
Geneva for July 25. The U.S. sent Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization
Affairs William Buffum as Kissinger’s personal representative. O’Malley and Craig criticize
Buffum and Kissinger for their “extraordinary failure to criticise Turkish action in breaking
O’Malley, 201; Hitchens, 196 The Trial of Henry Kissinger, 87; Stern, 131.
197 O’Malley, 210.
the ceasefire…even after the illegal Sampson regime had been replaced by Clerides,” during
the Geneva negotiations.196 The talks continuously faltered, however, as the three sides
struggled to remain on speaking terms. Kissinger saved the talks at least once through longdistance
telephone calls to the British, Greek, and Turkish leaders and ultimately managed to
broker an agreement that called for the removal of Turkish troops after a settlement on
Cyprus’s future, a standstill in fighting, and the creation of a UN buffer zone.
A second round of talks, again in Geneva, was arranged for the beginning of August.
The Cypriot representatives were to be included for the first time. They opened on August 8
with immediate tension over the continued movement of Turkish troops and Makarios’
refusal to accept any form of partition. Meanwhile, Nixon resigned from office on August 9
to avoid impeachment over the Watergate scandal and Gerald R. Ford became President.
Kissinger stayed on with the new administration and this time sent Arthur Hartman to
Geneva as his representative and the U.S.’s observer. The talks repeatedly stalled as a result
of Turkish Foreign Minister Turan Gunesh’s frequent demands for an immediate agreement
based on partition and rumors of Turkish plans for a second invasion. O’Malley and Craig
argue that Kissinger denied the likelihood of a second invasion and “made it clear that the
United States was content with Ecevit’s reassurances of military restraint,” despite British
mediator James Callaghan’s conviction that the military movement was imminent.197 Thus
the conspiracy theory holds that the U.S. prevented the British from moving in militarily and
preventing the establishment of further Turkish military control over territory.
Despite later shifts in the Turkish position, the Greeks and Greek Cypriots refused to
even consider the plans for separate Turkish cantons and division of the island. The talks
began to break down on August 13 and 14 as Turkish forces began to move. O’Malley and
Craig argue that Kissinger exacerbated the situation when he released a State Department
O’Malley, 2 198 14; Stern, 132; Hitchens, Cyprus, 99.
199 O’Malley, 214.
200 O’Malley, 217-218.
201 O’Malley, 220.
202 O’Malley, 220.
statement that said, among other things, that “the position of the Turkish community on
Cyprus requires considerable improvement and protection. We have supported a greater
degree of autonomy for them.”198 The implication is that the coup, which the U.S. reportedly
knew about in advance, gave the Turks the right to seize control of more guarantees for the
Turkish Cypriot community, including autonomous zones.199
On August 14, the Turkish forces moved out from Kyrenia, Nicosia, and the corridor
connecting the two cities. The Turkish leader, Ecevit, reportedly confirmed the agreeing
policies of the U.S. and Turkey regarding Cyprus, while Greece pulled out of NATO’s
military wing.200 Ultimately Greece did not have the strength to counter the Turkish
operation. The Turks continued to advance, however, until August 18, when O’Malley and
Craig state the Americans moved the aircraft-carriers Forrestal, Independence, and Inchon
into the Eastern Mediterranean. They argue that this shows the influence the U.S. was
capable of exercising as well as the support for Turkish troop movements only into specified
areas.201 They then blame the collapse of the talks on Kissinger’s encouragement of Turkish
objectives and refusal to support British military deterrence actions.202 The 1964 plan
developed by Acheson and Ball allegedly came to fruition through Kissinger’s actions in
1974, achieving the desired partition of the island and protection for the U.S. facilities.
The Reality of the U.S. Policies Post-Invasion
In contrast to the conspiracy theory, the U.S.’s policies during the time period
between July 20 and August 15 were not developed in order to achieve the plan developed by
203 Birand, 49.
204 Birand, 39.
205 Hartman to Kissinger, briefing memorandum, July 22, 1974, Record Group 59: Records of Henry Kissinger,
Box 9, NARA, MD.
206 “Minutes of Meeting of the WSAG,” July 22, 1974, Nixon Presidential Materials, NARA, MD.
207 Birand, 58.
Acheson and Ball. First, the conspiracy argues that Kissinger and the State Department
encouraged the Turkish troop movements in between the country’s two military
interventions. Kissinger’s statements that appeared to encourage the Turkish troop
movements, however, were in fact his attempts at first negotiating a cease-fire and then an
agreement between Greece and Turkey. It is most likely true that Kissinger allowed Turkish
troop movements and Mehmet Ali Birand’s account, 30 Hot Days, is generally accepted by
all sides as a reliable Turkish source. The troop adjustments were permitted, however, so that
the Turks did not feel their troops were at risk within their beachhead or that their
government was in disadvantaged position in the international negotiations.
Mehmet Birand in fact supports this interpretation when he stated that “they had to
[move]…the area held no room for manoeuvre such as was necessary for their security.”203
In one of these conversations Ecevit himself also claimed that “[w]e must ensure the full
security of our forces in the island.”204 The Cyprus Task Force formed on July 22 to
coordinate Departmental activity in the crisis agreed when they stated that “[t]he Turks will
probably insist on consolidating their position on the island so that they will have a realistic
basis for partition or at least negotiation.”205 General George S. Brown of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff concurred during another SAG meeting that same day: “I think the Turks will pour
enough stuff in during the ceasefire to put them in a better bargaining position.”206 Thus the
U.S. adopted a pragmatic position by accepting that Turkey was bound to continue moving
their troops and this must be permitted in order to achieve a ceasefire. Birand agreed with
this assessment of America activity when he stated that Kissinger adopted “a realistic
policy,” not endorsement of a conspiracy with Turkey, during this time period.207
208 Birand, 111.
209 Birand, 93.
210 Birand, 111.
211 Kissinger to Ford, Memorandum of Conversation, August 13, 1974, Library of Congress, Manuscript
Division, Kissinger Papers.
The rest of the public statement the conspiracy theorists cite above does not appear to
support Turkish troop movements, but rather it confirms support for the constitution and the
territorial integrity of Cyprus, argues that diplomatic measures have not been exhausted, and
expresses opposition to military action.208 Birand in fact quotes a conversation from this
period between Kissinger and Ecevit where Kissinger states, “I know that you are not
satisfied with the territory you presently hold, but it would be much better to resolve your
disputes at the conference table.”209 After the August 13 press conference statement, Birand
also quotes the Turkish UN Ambassador Coskun Kirca who stated that Turkey interpreted
the statement as an endorsement of the Turkish “right to march” if their “principles are not
accepted” even though the Greek UN Ambassador strongly disagreed.210 The statements
only reiterated previous U.S. policy, however, and the State Department should not be held
responsible for the Turks misinterpreting their public positions as encouragement or support.
Secondly, there is no doubt the U.S. received warnings of the coming second invasion
as the conspiracy theorists’ claim. The State Department reacted as they did not because of
their support for Turkey’s actions, but rather because the State Department believed Ecevit’s
assertions to Kissinger that he would delay the military action and control his generals.
Ecevit assured Kissinger at least twice that he could enforce both a 24-hour and a 36-hour
delay in Turkish action in order to negotiate with his generals.211 As demonstrated above,
Kissinger also made clear to Ecevit during this time that further military movements were
not an acceptable solution. Thus the State Department believed that, through Ecevit, they
could control further movements.
Mission in Geneva (Hartman) to State, teleg., August 9, 1974, 212 National Security Adviser, Kissinger-
Scowcroft West Wing Office Files, Gerald R. Ford Library, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
213 Memorandum of conversation, August 12, 1974, Kissinger Transcripts, Digital National Security Archive,
2004&res_dat=xri:dnsa&rft_dat=xri:dnsa:article:CKT01283 [accessed 16 September 2007].
214 Birand, 50.
215 Kissinger to Ford, telephone conversation, August 10, 1974, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box
385, Telephone Conversations, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Regardless of the warnings received or U.S. perceptions of the situation, there was
little to nothing the U.S. could have done to prevent the second invasion. By August 9, Sisco
had reported that “a Turkish army plan to being another military operation on August 20”
had been discovered because, “further military action might be required if Turkey’s
objectives were not obtained by diplomatic means.”212 On August 12, Deputy Assistant
Secretary to Europe Wells Stabler stated that if “he [Ecevit] is determined to go, there is not
much we can do.”213 Birand agreed with this assessment of the situation when he described
the military and government views on a second invasion as early as the end of July. The
military stated that “[o]ur plans had always envisaged a two-stage operation…this was
unavoidable.” The government also claimed that “[a]ll the plans discussed allowed for two
phases…[t]he breathing space between the two operations was a technical necessity,”
although phase II would be postponed If Greece could agree.214 Thus the U.S. influence to
prevent a second intervention was limited in its potential scope.
Finally, the U.S. did not support the British military intervention at this time again
because it was never part of their policy for Cyprus to involve U.S. troops in any way, as
described above. In addition, during a time of transition in the Presidency after Richard
Nixon’s resignation, the possibility of committing troops to an already controversial crisis
simply did not exist. As Kissinger stated on August 10 in a conversation with President
Ford, “[w]e could not—really in the first 48 hours of your term in of office—be very relaxed
about unilateral military action.”215 Thus the second denial of U.S. troops in no way supports
a conspiracy, but rather was a logical political decision by the State Department. Thus the
U.S.’s actual policies during this last phase of the crisis still support the assertion that the
State Department was working toward a ceasefire and negotiations rather than further
Turkish control of the island for the sake of relatively insignificant and underused U.S.
facilities and British SBA’s. This concludes the analysis of the conspiracy theories in
comparison with the actual U.S. policies during the three crises.
Overview of the Arguments for Each Crisis
In conclusion, the United States government developed a consistent policy during the
1960s and 1970s that encouraged the use of negotiations and diplomacy to diffuse the three
crises on the island of Cyprus and maintain stability among NATO countries in the Eastern
Mediterranean. This contrasts sharply with the portrait of America painted by the conspiracy
theorists, where the State Department allegedly encouraged a Greek-orchestrated coup and
Turkish military intervention in order to protect its interests on the island. These interests
were apparently the U.S. communications facilities and British Sovereign Base Areas located
Specifically, during the 1963 and 1964 crisis, the conspiracy theorists argue that the
U.S. and British governments cooperated to establish partition on the island. They support
this assertion by describing how George Ball and Dean Acheson collaborated on a plan that
would allow for simultaneous Greek and Turkish invasions in order to create stability and
protect the U.S. facilities. This plan was allegedly the blueprint for the U.S.’s policies for the
next decade. While suggestions like the Ball-Acheson plan were made by State Department
officials, their recommendations were not official U.S. policy at the highest level throughout
the next ten years. Johnson never fully supported the idea, these same officials later rejected
the plan, and the State Department altered its policies accordingly. In addition, the U.S. did
not appear concerned about the future of its facilities and in fact cut down their operations.
During the 1967 crisis, the conspiracy theorists argue that the U.S. had grown
increasingly frustrated with the British reductions in their military expenditures and presence
around the world. This allegedly led to U.S. concerns about the future of the Cypriot
Sovereign Base Areas for their Cold War intelligence needs. In contrast, however, the State
Department documents indicate that the U.S. consistently supported negotiations and
diplomacy to diffuse the crisis. There is no evidence that the U.S. was angered by the
relatively minor reduction of British troops in Cyprus and the U.S. had already safeguarded
their own communications facilities through an agreement with the Cyprus government
concluded in 1968.
In 1974, the conspiracy argument claims the U.S. must have been involved in the
Greek coup because of the “two-track” diplomacy characteristic of both Nixon and
Kissinger, the repeated warnings the State Department received and did not act on, and
Kissinger’s neutral responses to the events. The U.S. allegedly encouraged the Turkish
invasion because they again failed to act on the warnings, did not provide Joseph Sisco with
enough to negotiate effectively, and refused to provide military support for a British
In reality, this assessment of the U.S. policies ignores the fact that Cyprus was not a
State Department priority at the time, misinterprets Kissinger’s actions, and fails to outline
what the U.S. priorities actually were: prevention of the internationalization of the conflict, a
firm understanding of on-island developments before decisions are made, denial of overt
support to Nicos Sampson, and encouragement of the restoration of the constitution and the
opening of negotiations. In addition, the U.S. handled the warnings of invasion in a manner
consistent with its policy up until that time, Joseph Sisco’s mission was nearly impossible
from the beginning, the U.S. never intended to provide military support to an intervention
mission, and the facilities on the island were no longer a U.S. priority. Finally, the U.S.
permitted Turkish troop movements for the sake of negotiating a ceasefire, but did not
condone them, and would have been unable to prevent a second invasion regardless. Thus
the realities of the U.S. policies during each crisis illustrate government support for
negotiations and diplomacy rather than covert operations involving external interference on
The Implications of the Argument
To conclude, I will look at both the historical and the policy implications of my
argument. This thesis clarifies the history of America’s role in Cyprus during the 1960s and
1970s by establishing the correct narrative of the State Department’s policy development.
The narrative rebuts the arguments of conspiracy theorists such as Brendan O’Malley, Ian
Craig, Lawrence Stern, William Mallinson. I accomplish this by targeting the two key points
of the conspiracy theory: first, that the U.S. had a continuous, decade-long plan to partition
Cyprus through external military intervention and second, that this plan was based on the
strategic value of Cyprus as a military base and source of intelligence. Instead, I showed that
the first major point is refuted by describing how America’s policy evolved and changed
over the course of that decade. Next, it is clear that the communications facilities and
Sovereign Base Areas did not merit the importance attributed to them by the conspiracy
theorists. War between NATO allies Greece and Turkey would have done much more
significant damage to U.S. Cold War interests than the loss of three or four relatively minor
intelligence facilities in the Eastern Mediterranean. In addition, war would force the U.S.
government to choose sides and lost more important strategic interests, such as the Sixth
Fleet or installations in Turkey, as a result. While the U.S.’s rationale was not always
commendable or favorable to the Cypriot people and at times the State Department’s
decisions may merit criticism, the U.S. did not orchestrate a decade-long conspiracy to
protect its own interests on the island. Therefore, my thesis adds an important correction to
the existing literature on the crises on Cyprus.
Michael Jansen, “American Duplicity 216 II,” Action Cyprus, [20 July 1999],
http://www.greece.org/cyprus/Takism6.htm [Accessed 9 May 2008].
This thesis also answers the larger question of how conspiracy theories should be
handled by encouraging research-based, scholarly analysis of these theories. The conspiracy
theory was not developed in a vacuum, but rather in the context of the Cold War and U.S.
policy during that time period. Historians have demonstrated that the State Department and
the CIA were involved in covert activity in Iran, Guatemala, Chile, as well as other areas.
Intelligence and the strategic value of both alliances and geography had great value to the
U.S. government in its battle against the perceived threat of Communism and the possibility
of nuclear war. This gives the impression to some that the U.S. could and did exercise
control over countries all over the world to the benefit of its own interests, and the detriment
of those of the Soviet Union, at this time. This thesis demonstrates that, in at least one
instance, the State Department was caught unawares and forced into a reactive position
during a crisis rather than the puppeteer pulling the strings. In fact, if the U.S. possessed that
level of control its foreign policy had a better chance of success in Cyprus, by avoiding the
damage to its relations with Greece, Turkey, in Cyprus, as well as other nations, such as Iran.
A more nuanced depiction of U.S. Cold War involvement on the global stage is needed
among Cypriots and Greeks to counter this image of absolute control and the sense of
helplessness, bitterness, and lack of responsibility that has developed as a result.
Greek Cypriots in particular have also used this conspiracy theory in ways that have
had a negative impact on the success of the intercommunal negotiations since 1974. Proreunification
websites such as “Action Cyprus” blame the U.S. for the coup and invasion and
are not alone in their claim that Washington is responsible for deeply worsening and
perpetuating the Cyprus problem through its actions in 1974. The U.S. is allegedly further
responsible for the continued division of the island because it does not put enough pressure
on Turkey to agree to a solution.216 Further criticism comes from Greek Cypriot
Unsigned Comment on O’Malley and Craig’s The Cyprus Conspiracy, Cyprus 217 Conflict, http://www.cyprusconflict.
net/www.cyprus-conflict.net/US%20role%20in%20’74%20-%20comment.html [Accessed 9 May 2008].
218 Jean Christou, “Let the Talks Begin,” Cyprus Mail, [22 March 2008], http://www.cyprus-mail.com/news/
[accessed 22 March 2008].
disappointment with the Annan Plan as well as the U.S. role in its negotiation and terms.
Perhaps the Cypriots hold the U.S. responsible, “not because the U.S. did too little, but
because it never cared enough to do more.”217
Regardless, the conspiracy theory shifts culpability away from the intractable
positions of the Cypriots themselves, the influence of Turkey, and the Greek Cypriot role in
the stagnant intercommunal negotiations. If the U.S., and to a certain extent the U.K., is to
blame for the continued division of the island then the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots
are not guilty of perpetuating the conflict themselves. Ultra-nationalist propaganda and zerosum
positions, such as those demanding the removal of all foreign troops and settlers and the
complete reunification of the island, run rampant as a result and further prevent constructive,
cooperative discussions. My argument clarifies the U.S. role during 1974 and emphasizes
the fact that the State Department was not involved in such a conspiracy to create partition
on Cyprus, which reduces the influence of this theory that encourages inflexibility and
Finally, Cyprus is currently in a position of great potential since the recent election of
President Demetris Christofias and his willingness to restart negotiations. On March 22,
2008, President Christofias and the Turkish leader Mehmet Ali Talat met in the Nicosia
airport to discuss the creation of working committees that would aid the UN-sponsored talks.
In addition, the two leaders talked about the possibility of opening the Ledra Street barrier
within two weeks, so that pedestrian traffic could move directly between the Greek and
Turkish Cypriot areas of Nicosia along the street known primarily for its shops and cafes.218
On April 4, that barrier was destroyed and pedestrian traffic can now move freely between
Jean Christou, “Open at Last,” Cyprus Mail, [4 April 2008], http://www.219 cyprus-mail.com/news/ [accessed 4
220 Quoted in Hitchens, Cyprus, 29.
the two sides at the center of the capital city.219 Advances such as these in the
intercommunal talks are the type of rational and constructive movements found in a
negotiation process free of conspiracy theories, ultra-nationalist propaganda, and zero-sum
positions. The road to peace will not be simple or easy, given the current political turmoil in
Turkey and its demand that the Annan Plan be used as the basis for any negotiations.
For the sake of a Cyprus solution, these advances must continue and increase. The
rejection of conspiracy theories can only encourage such developments in order to finally
bring this decades-long conflict to a successful, lasting, and peaceful conclusion. Giralamo
Dandini wrote in his Materials for a History of Cyprus, “The kingdom [Cyprus] has from all
time had a variety of masters.”220 Let it be clear that the United States was not one of them.
I argue that the Cypriots, Greeks, and Turks had more responsibility for their destiny than
many of them believe. The international community must encourage the Cypriots to continue
asserting control over their own future through a productive peace process.
Christou, Jean. “Let the Talks Begin.” Cyprus Mail, 22 March 2008, http://www.cyprusmail.
com/news/ [accessed 22 March 2008].
Christou, Jean. “Open at Last.” Cyprus Mail, 4 April 2008. http://www.cyprusmail.
com/news/ [accessed 4 April, 2008].
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Dismantling the Cyprus Conspiracy
Caroline Wenzke and Dan Lindley